There are times when The Five-Year Engagement starts to seem like The Five-Year Film, a self-indulgent meander which does itself no favours.
Stringent editing would have sharpened the appealing tale at the heart of it.
But even at two hours four minutes, it still wins you round, increasingly endearing towards the end after the most sluggish of starts.
The film is the tale of love’s great procrastinators, Emily Blunt and Jason Segel as a couple who ride out an unusually long engagement (and film). Always something comes along to prevent them tying the knot, however much it’s obvious to everyone around them (not least us on the settee) that they really ought to be together.
Tom (Segel) is a San Francisco chef who gives it all up to accompany fiancée Violet (Blunt) when she get a place on her dream psychology course at a university in the back of beyond.
The dreariest sections of the film see Tom descend into bearded, hunting-shooting hickdom while Violet dallies with Rhys Ifans as her hopeless-unconvincing, terribly-miscast psychology professor. A little low point comes when Violet and her sister resort to Sesame Street voices in front of the children to discuss Violet’s endless ditherings.
But in a much stronger second half, the film takes hold of you. The fact is that these are decent, likeable people painfully incapable of seizing the initiative and dictating their own circumstances.
You find yourself willing them on (if only so that the film can end) to find a way out of the depressing downward spiral which can lead only to ever-increasing estrangement and eventual separation.
The strange thing is that even after two hours and four minutes you hope they work it out – probably because the past couple of hours will seem a waste of time if they don’t.
Emily Blunt is always watchable even if she does forever seem to be playing variations on pretty much the same character; and Segel brings something touching to the frustrations his character always seems to be on the wrong end of.
DVD rental supplied by Blockbuster. For details of other new DVD releases see www.blockbuster.co.uk.