Film review: The Five-Year Engagement starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel

Here’s what I was expecting when I went to see The Five-Year Engagement – a romantic comedy with a teensy bit of angst, maybe a little bit of swearing, and an easy-to-come-by happy ending.

Here’s what I got when I went to see The Five-Year Engagement – a romantic comedy that ripped my heart out before proceeding to piece it back together, a lot of awkwardness, some really rude moments and a happy ending that everyone had to work for.

And guess what? I really enjoyed the surprise.

I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt, but I never realised just how funny she could be as an actress. It would have been so easy for Blunt, as lead character Violet, to have been overshadowed by Jason Segel’s Tom, but Blunt held her own, and in fact was part of the funniest scene in the film, which didn’t feature Segel at all and involved Blunt arguing with her sister, with both of them doing the voices of characters from Sesame Street the whole time.

Violet and Tom have just got engaged (hilarious proposal) and are planning their wedding when Violet gets a job offer of her dreams. The couple agree Violet will take the job and schlep off to Michigan, where Tom finds himself getting increasingly more miserable without a fulfilling job, and Violet finds herself thriving on success.

Cut to a few years later and Tom has let himself go a bit, and is now living like some kind of caveman (hunting his own meat, massive amounts of facial hair).

The pair get their act together slightly and decide to go ahead and get married. Unbeknownst to Tom, the catalyst is because Violet has been kissed by her boss. Tom almost doesn’t find out, but in a heartwrenching scene he runs away after discovering the truth, does something he really regrets, and wakes up naked in a forest the next morning and has to have his toe amputated.

Tom and Violet’s drifting apart is filled with comic moments, but it’s hard to watch them go through the tough times, and when Tom was wondering through the forest I found my laughter turning into (unshed) tears as the moment turned from comic to tragic.

As a side plot to Tom and Violet are Tom’s best friend Alex and Violet’s sister Suzie, who stumble their way into a relationship and somehow manage to make it work, despite being completely unsuited to each other and yelling at each other most of the time they’re on screen together. The other two romantic relationships on screen – Violet’s dad and stepmum, and Tom’s parents – are also far from smooth yet both couples make it work, and all three relationships act as a contrast, and something to aspire to in some ways, for Tom and Violet.

The relationships in The Five-Year Engagement aren’t pretty ones – there are no slow motion kisses in the rain, no well-timed coincidental meetings. Instead, The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy with a slightly realistic edge. It’s still a film so it can’t mirror real life completely, but I enjoyed the move-like happy ending even more because of the reality that preceeded it.

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