Film Reviews

A Couple Struggles With Weather, Relationship in "The Five-Year Engagement"

The Five-Year Engagement is as comfy and cute as the bunny costume Tom (Jason Segel) wears at the New Year's Eve party where he meets Violet (Emily Blunt).

The movie opens in San Francisco, on their one-year anniversary, the night Tom proposes. They postpone the wedding so they can get settled at the University of Michigan, where Violet has just been accepted to do postdoctoral research — an adjustment period that involves lame gags with snow and the lack of classy restaurants worthy of sous chef Tom's skills.

While he makes Reubens at Zingerman's deli, Violet thrives under the academic mentorship of Welsh charmer Winton (Rhys Ifans). When her postdoc is extended, Tom's deepening misery at being stuck in the Wolverine State culminates in extracurricular drunken kisses, an amputated big toe, and the couple's decision to call it quits — with about 45 minutes to fill before the preordained conclusion.

Occasionally, the dialogue in The Five-Year Engagement might sound like something an adult audience member has once thought or uttered. "I wanna be alone with you here," Tom pouts to Violet after they've had a fight, and she gets out of bed to respect his request for momentary solitude. This fleeting acknowledgment of the come-here/go-away dynamic of most romantic relationships serves as the film's most insightful look at attachment at any cost. The rest is much like the doughnuts Violet uses as a key prop in a research experiment: stale and not good for you.

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.