Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013 – Not Another Happy Ending (2013)

Not Another Happy Ending, 2013.

Directed by John McKay.
Starring Karen Gillan, Stanley Weber, Gary Lewis, Amy Manson, Henry Ian Cusick, Kate Dickie, Freya Mavor, and Iain de Caestecker.

Not Another Happy Ending


Karen Gillan stars as Jane, a budding Scottish writer who gets writers block during her second novel.

Not Another Happy Ending

Having been advised that the trailer for this film gives away the ENTIRE plot, I went into the cinema unprepared, armed with only a brief synopsis and the belief that the wonderful Amy Pond of Doctor Who couldn’t possibly disappoint.

To be fair to Karen Gillan, she didn’t disappoint in the slightest. She was frank, quirky and witty, with excellent Pippi Longstocking braids of thick red hair. Unfortunately, the rest of the film proved too heavy for her to carry alone, and it fell disastrously flat.

The male lead is Tom Duval (Stanley Weber), a passionate Frenchman who gives Jane her big break. The set up between the two was so obvious it was a little painful to watch; a pain that was not relieved by either clever script or sparkling chemistry. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an on-screen pair fancy each other less. Yet more disappointment lay in that the plot gave us absolutely nothing of substance to distract from the clumsy progress towards guy-gets-girl.

Attempted sub-plot number one: Jane is haunted by her protagonist while suffering from writers block. What could have been a really excellent look at the relationship between a writer and her characters (see Stranger Than Fiction) was instead very ill used – ‘Darsie’ popped up once in a while to be provoking, and occasionally served as a foil to Jane’s thoughts, but accomplished no other purpose.

Attempted sub-plot two: Jane’s relationship with her father. Her first novel, a pseudo-fictional account of her disastrous childhood, is a roaring success, and brings her absentee father back on the scene. The atrocities she endured as a child are consistently alluded to, but the script is gravely lacking in any exploration of how they affected her, other than to mention she ‘worships her pain’. This statement is supported by one haphazardly included wall of rejection letters at the very beginning, and nothing else – Jane is otherwise quite a merry and well-functioning person.

All in all, a poor script and poor casting choices leave Karen Gillan floundering to give a performance with any kind of meaning or depth, and it’s a great shame for what is her feature film debut. I hope her next film, Oculus, does not leave as much to be desired.

Flickering Myth Rating Film ★ / Movie ★ ★

Samantha Morrison

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