On this side of a cynical millennium, it’s par for the course for romantic comedies and dramas to be served with a hefty sprinkling of snark, a kind of ironic detachment from the terrifying prospect of actually displaying genuine emotions to other people. So it’s highly refreshing to see a film that doesn’t shy away from this old-fashioned idea and fully embraces it, allowing an open-hearted approach with both its humour and its romance. Predictably, mainstream critics have not been kind, perhaps because there’s too much heart and soul and celebration of youth here to instantly connect with a profession that’s almost entirely old white men.

Much of the appeal lies in the winning performances (the two leads Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke throw themselves into their roles without vanity or self-consciousness), but credit should also go to the deft handling of tone from brilliant theatre director Thea Sharrock (doing film work for the first time here). It’s also provocative in terms of the ethical dilemmas it eventually poses, although there is some clumsiness in the way it presents its disabled character’s view on his own life. It should go without saying that all disabled people have just as valid lives to lead as abled-bodied folk, and the film unintentionally muddies those waters, but for me at least this did not entirely detract from its winning humour and ultimately very moving themes.

A highly unusual modern romantic comedy that manages to be both romantic and comedic9
And it does so without a hint of cynicism or snark9
A tremendously impressive handling of tone from director Thea Sharrock8
Some rather uncomfortable implications from the male lead's decisions about the value of his disabled life4
Any film that wears its heart on its sleeve as much as this is going to be well-received by this blog8
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test failures
  • n/a
8Overall Score

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