By Liam Lacey
The first feature from Canadian writer/director Rebecca Addelman traces the first year of a new marriage between aspiring writer Franny (Eve Hewson, daughter of rock star Bono) and actor Dan (Avan Jogia), a cute young couple struggling between careers, love, and emotional authenticity on the fringes of the Hollywood movie industry.
Though more breezily poignant than deeply insightful, Paper Year has a savvy commercial snap in its portrayal of love coming undone. There are some echoes of the bittersweet Judd Apatow-produced Netflix series, Love which, it turns out, is a show Addelman has written for. Replete with a salty best friend (Grace Glowicki) and a wisely concerned mom (Andie MacDowell), Paper Year ticks the rom-com boxes before flipping the formula.
Shortly after their impulsive City Hall marriage at 22, Franny lands a job at a crappy reality television program called Goosed! Dan, unable to land an audition, spends his time dog-sitting at the fancy home of an actress he knows who’s off in Romania shooting a film. Franny grows more independent and successful; he grows needier and progressively less appealing.
As the new girl at work, Franny attracts attention — and responds to it. She ends up spending time with her supervisor, Noah (Hamish Linklater) a sardonic married guy who approaches her with a condescending come-on.
“Everyone thinks he’s so funny but he’s not,” she explains to her husband, at which point it’s obvious she’s a goner. (I thought of the Jim Croce line from the song “Operator:” “A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated.”)
As with the rom-com formula it toys with, Paper Year steers away from the trauma of infidelity and loss for the milder tribulations of embarrassment, sad hugs and homiletic lessons, in this case of young love: Though you may not live happily together ever after, you needn’t live sadly ever after apart.
Paper Year. Directed and written by Rebecca Addelman. Starring Eve Hewson, Avan Jogia, and Hamish Linklater. Opens June 22 in Toronto (Yonge & Dundas), Vancouver (The Park Theatre) and Ottawa (South Keys).