LONG STORY SHORT
THREE STARS Teddy's life hurtles out of control after a chance encounter with a strange woman.
Rafe Spall, Zahra Newman
ROMANTIC COMEDY Australia #LONGSTORYSHORT
While not jumping the shark exactly, when a young couple move into waterfront property just off Sydney’s Bronte Beach, you certainly know you’re in fantasy land. Granted we’re not privy to their financial means, but the last time anyone who wasn’t a Packer bought a home like theirs was in the mid-1960’s. Nonetheless, it’s in keeping with the general vibe which sits somewhere between casual morality lesson and the kind of quirky comedy Australia rode into an early grave in the late 90’s (think the Guy Pearce body-swap yarn DATING THE ENEMY).
Fortunately, LONG STORY SHORT doesn’t take itself too seriously and is given a boost by the appealing presence of its leads Rafe Spall and Zahra Newman. They’re newly weds Teddy and Leanne whose great relationship would be perfect if only Teddy would commit instead of always hitting the pause button while trying to second guess the future.
Then, while visiting his father’s grave, he encounters the mysterious Noni Hazelhurst who gives Teddy a lecture on not wasting time. Before you can say ‘Witch! Burn her!’, his life suddenly accelerates out of control as he finds himself jumping twelve months in time every few minutes or so: he forgets his anniversary, becomes a father, their happy marriage hits the rocks, then he’s divorced, his ex-girlfriend moves in and his best friend has fallen ill. Can Teddy reverse the curse and safe his marriage, and his life?
Looping storylines, especially those in comedies, are always in danger of outstaying their welcome. It’s a condition that writer/director Josh Lawson (2014’s THE LITTLE DEATH) is clearly aware of and signals as much to the audience by way of referencing GROUNDHOG DAY among others. Although we could have done with a one or two fewer rounds of the curse, LONG STORY SHORT does live up to its name and manages to keep the comedy fairly tight and on point. Although there is a gabby freneticism to Teddy’s character that becomes tiring (again, Spall does a great job keeping his character compelling throughout his perceived mental meltdown), it’s not overwhelming. And this is a rom-com; Lucille Ball made a career out of frenetic after all.
Lawson’s Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs locations are radiant and while the old-school quality of the yarn lacks freshness, it is also pleasingly inoffensive. Although there’s virtually nothing about LONG STORY SHORT that will change your life it might give you inspiration to get on with it. And that’s no bad thing.