The early word on this David Kane-helmed Britflick has been favourable, pitching it as a rival to Notting Hill (the Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant romancer from the Four Weddings And A Funeral team) as this year's Full Monty. Not that it's hard for home-generated fare to stand out just now amid filmic carbuncles such as The Acid House.
The action in This Year's Love centres around a group of late 20s/early 30s drifter types each having a stab at happiness in contemporary London. On the girls' side there's airport cleaner Marey (Burke), a no-nonsense barrel-shaped funny "bird"; Sophie (Ehle) a twitchy, self-loathing well-bred trustafarian; and clothes designer Hannah (McCormack), a girl who shags her fiance's best mate days before their wedding. The boys team includes Men Behaving Badly-style chancers (Douglas Henshall and Scott) and a dysfunctional nerd called Liam (Hart).
Inevitably, Burke stands out but the entire ensemble is convincing. TYL is a pleasing testimony as to what can be realised from relatively slim pickings - charting the ups and downs of loves lost and found is predictable stuff. Thin though this is (few will buy the unconvincing coincidences that lead the pack of six to shag one another), the plotlines succeed because they are backed up with a gratifyingly gritty script.
Comparisons might be made with Four Weddings (although this is smarter) but in the end Four Weddings knew when to end and this film doesn't. Stretched over three one-year segments, the film is unable to sustain the full two hours and ends up indulging itself where brevity would have been prudent.