I Love You Too
Man loves woman. Man can’t say he does. Man loses woman. It’s a fairly standard plot in the romantic-comedy universe but the quintessential Australian backdrop is what gives this film a novelty factor. Aussie audiences in particular will most likely appreciate the references to ‘doonas’ and cameos from Hamish Blake (one half of comedy duo Hamish and Andy) and model Megan Gale.
Directed by Daina Reid and written by former Rove-regular Peter Helliar, I Love You Too stars Brendan Cowell as Jim, a man in his mid-thirties who works at a miniature railway station and still lives at his childhood home with his sister and brother-in-law. His relationship with Alice (Yvonne Strahovski) has spanned 3+ years without him ever uttering the words ‘I love you.’ Prompted by a colleague’s quick engagement and Jim’s presentation of a commitment ring, Alice dumps him.
The characters are rather typical and I feel rely all too much on gender stereotypes; the emotionally-stunted nice-guy Jim, his sleazy man-child best mate Blake (Helliar), the prim English girlfriend Alice, and plenty of ‘blokey’ blokes. But there’s a touch of sweetness around Jim and Alice’s relationship, and the inclusion of a subplot involving a grieving widower (played by Peter Dinklage) who helps Jim put his feelings for Alice into written words.
Peter Dinklage and Megan Gale provide the best performances as the articulate and witty Charlie and the Italian beauty Francesca. They play off each other well and I found their scenes to be the most touching in the film.
Hamish Blake, despite his minuscule role, is the weakest in my opinion and further cements my belief that he’s best suited to improvised comedy rather than scripted. To put it simply, I could see he was acting.
Yvonne Strahovski doesn’t have a lot to work with as the character of Alice- there’s a memorable scene where she throws a few f-bombs Jim’s way that I liked watching for the passion, but overall her character is sweet yet somewhat bland.
Bridie Carter and Travis McMahon have good chemistry as Jim’s sister Marie and brother-in-law Owen but their story tends to distract from the main plot. Brendan Cowell as Jim is your average Joe, somehow likable despite his shortcomings. And Peter Helliar, while his role wasn't exactly challenging, was a surprise- I wasn’t a fan of the segments he contributed whilst on Rove and thought this is the funniest I’ve seen him.
As for his script, there are a few plot points that drag towards the end of the film, but it ties together for the most part; fortunately there are few little people jokes at the expense of Charlie and a particular subplot ends with a tear-jerking but ultimately touching twist.
It’s not a raucous laugh-out-loud comedy. I found myself laughing uncontrollably a grand total of once, but there are a fair number of chuckles along the way. I felt that some moments were reaching for comedy and couldn’t quite get there but there’s a balance between the crude and the sweet.
Admittedly, much of the appeal for me came from the film being Australian-made; it was interesting to watch an interpretation of the American-dominated rom-com genre set to an Australian backdrop.