Netflix have so much content that if one of their films hasn’t got big star power in it, it seems to drop with no fanfare at all. That’s exactly what’s happened with their latest release. For the next few days, ‘Happy Anniversary’ will have pride of place near the top of Netflix before being relegated down. And that’s a shame, as it means a lot of people are going to miss this hidden gem.
…a lot of people are going to miss this hidden gem.
Ben Schwartz (of ‘Parks and Rec’ fame) and Nöel Wells star as Sam and Mollie who, whilst celebrating their three year anniversary, hit a crossroads when Molly claims she isn’t happy. The remainder of the film is spent with the two deciding if they should continue their relationship or end it. It’s very much aiming for the quirky romantic films genre (think ‘(500) Days of Summer’) and that’s one of the hardest genres to get right. It’s very easy to come off as if they’re trying way too hard to be “down to earth” and “real” and this causes the plot to fall apart. It’s also hurts if the two leads don’t work, as the majority of the film is following them. Thankfully, this film is a delight as it nails both it’s plot and pacing as well as the casting.
Not afraid to shine the spotlight on the positives and negatives of relationships, whilst also not afraid to point the finger at behaviours that tend to be brushed over, Jared Stern (who also directs) crafts a well balanced and totally convincing screenplay.
Both Schwartz and Wells excel in the lead roles and, crucially for this type of film, make every moment between Sam and Mollie feel natural. There’s no long winded arguments or strongly worded monologues, instead it’s all much more realistic. When they argue, they still have time for jokes that one another appreciate and their happier moments together, mainly in flashbacks, are full of sweet, but not cliched moments. Nöel Wells excels the most as her storyline is a tad more interesting and allows her to have the best moments, as well as the best quotes (her line about getting married and dinner plates had me in hysterics). Rahul Kohli also stars as Sam’s friend Ed and at the beginning he seems like he’s dragging the film down but it’s a worry that soon disappears. While they’re sub plot of pitching a sale is rather odd, the way the two speak gives you no doubt they’re best mates. The majority of the film they’re arguing about Sam’s dilemma as two friends realistically would. It’s refreshing to see and it comes off so naturally it won’t get the recognition it deserves.
Of course, while the acting is quality, the script is absolute dynamite too. Not afraid to shine the spotlight on the positives and negatives of relationships, whilst also not afraid to point the finger at behaviours that tend to be brushed over, Jared Stern (who also directs) crafts a well balanced and totally convincing screenplay. It also has time for jokes seemingly out of place that work effortlessly, whether it be with a stranger off screen or a one liner completely irrelevant to the subject being discussed.
I’ve watched four Netflix films this year, two I’ve really disliked and, thanks to ‘Happy Anniversary’, there’s now two I absolutely LOVE. This is defiantly going to slip under the radar and other reviews have been pretty unfair to it in my opinion. Indie romance films get a lot of stick sometimes, and while ‘Happy Anniversary’ doesn’t reinvent the genre, it manages to blend entertainment with realism seamlessly, and that’s what makes it work so well.