Film Review: Not Another Happy Ending
Writer David Solomons
Director Ian McKay
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
Released 30 June 2013 (Edinburgh Film Festival)
11th October 2013 UK
8th August 2014 US
Having already seen Karen Gillan’s performance as Jean Shrimpton in ‘We’ll Take Manhattan’ written and directed by Ian McKay, and already a fan of Amy Pond in Doctor Who, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed by Gillan’s performance in ‘Not Another Happy Ending’. Filmed mostly in Glasgow, plus a few surprisingly familiar local areas to me, I settled down to watch the film. One thing I can say about this film, is that it’s bright and colourful, and even when Gillan’s character Jane Lockhart is going through a bout of writer’s block, everything is still brightly coloured, unlike the usual run of the mill Scottish films that show a starker, bleaker outlook on the city. So this was a total breath of fresh air.
The story is a romantic comedy about a writer Jane Lockhart played by Karen Gillan who develops writers block as she can’t write when she’s happy, and a publisher Tom Duvall played by Stanley Weber who has to invent ways of keeping her unhappy so that she will finish the book. But the more he tries to make her unhappy, the more he finds he can’t get her out of his head and ultimately falls in love with her, but it’s not all plain sailing, love never is – apparently!
Tom Duvall has another reason for pushing Lockhart to finish the novel. Jane is his only client and he needs her in order to not become bankrupt. But Jane, disliking the way that Tom operates, and he does come across as a very arrogant Frenchman decides that she would be better off with a more reputable publishing firm.
Desperate in a way to put a wedge between her and Duvall, Lockhart writes the final chapter and destroys the one character in the story who meant anything to her, and that’s where it starts becoming an all too familiar picture for me. I’ve been in exactly the same situation as Lockhart and felt the wrath of the character as I conveniently threw a curve ball, in other words, you do something so completely different to how that character should react, just so you can end that chapter. Bad idea.
Enter Darsie. Now this in itself is when I got excited as I whooped at the screen, much to the annoyance of others watching the film with me. I should really watch films on my own!
Darsie is the character that Lockhart creates in the novel. She is only seen by the writer and because of that it’s often mind blowing when they’re having a conversation, or sharing chocolate. I’ve never shared chocolate with my character, perhaps I should start that!
I could see myself a lot in the times when Lockhart spoke with her fictitious character Darsie. It’s that moment that you know you’re on a level par with your character, when they’re that real you could almost touch them and feel their physical presence.
But why I whooped is that the character is played by Amy Manson, and being the geek that I am and knowing in a way I should really have classed this as a Connection rather than a Beyond the TARDIS review, Amy Manson played Alice Guppy in Torchwood – ‘Fragments’.
The film was partly funded through a crowd funding project on Indiegogo website, and raised over $22,000. I remember reading about it in the local newspaper as a few scenes were filmed around Moffat area, as Gillan was reported to have stayed in one of the local hotels in the town. I’m not sure if they were looking for Extra’s too for the film or whether they were only looking for funding.
So of course during the portion of the film where Jane Lockhart fled Glasgow for some quiet time in an empty cottage in the middle of nowhere, the location looked awfully familiar, so familiar that it took another family member to have me pause the film and go frame by frame to see if he recognised the buildings in the background. (So if you’re reading this Ian McKay I’d really love to know whereabouts in Dumfries & Galloway you filmed the white cottage).
The film is available on Netflix but I’d like to own it on DVD as I’d like my own personal copy. It’s a wonderful, light-hearted comedy with down to earth characters including Gary Lewis who plays Jane’s Dad Benny. I have to say I didn’t like Henry Ian Cusick’s character Willie Scott, but then I think you weren’t meant to like him much really.
If you’re tired of the ‘shoot em up’ films or the sci fi and just want an afternoon film which is light viewing and doesn’t require too much of a CSI whodunit kind of story, then watch ‘Not Another Happy Ending’ you won’t be disappointed. I wasn’t.