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Nancy (Lake Bell) is 34, single and fed up of trying to find Mr Right. On a train to her parents’ 40 wedding anniversary party she meets with another passenger Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) who leaves the book she is reading – a self-help book called 6 Million People and You – for  Nancy, because she thinks Nancy should read it. However, it turns out that Jessica was going on a blind date, and both she and her date were going to hold a copy of the book so that they could recognise each other. Jessica buys another book but meanwhile her date Jack (Simon Pegg) sees Nancy with the book and assumes that she is the girl he is meant to be meeting.

Rather than put him straight, Nancy goes on the date and the two of them get along brilliantly. But of course, the truth must out and that’s when things take a turn. A run-in with a creepy former schoolfriend of Nancy (Rory Kinnear) and Jack’s ex-wife and new partner (Olivia Williams and Stephen Campbell Moore) complicate matters even further…

I really enjoyed this film. I think it’s fairly obvious from the beginning how it’s going to turn out in the end, and anyone who has seen a rom-com before will know what to expect. But getting there is good fun – and it is great to see a romantic comedy with believable characters and not a couple of 20 somethings that look like they have just sashayed in off the catwalk (not that the two main leads aren’t attractive, because they both definitely are, but they are also relatable).

Lake Bell nails the English accent – if I didn’t know that she was American in real life, I would have thought she actually was English. And Simon Pegg was ideal in the role of a  man who has been through a bitter divorce and is hoping to come out of the other end of a dark tunnel. Sharon Horgan is great as Nancy’s sister, and I really liked Ken Stott and Harriet Walter as her parents.

I did think Olivia Williams was slightly mis-cast as Jack’s ex-wife, although she takes only a small role so it did not detract from my enjoyment. On the flip side, Rory Kinnear was deliciously creepy as the obsessed schoolmate of Nancy, who knows the truth about her identity.

As mentioned before, the ending was always fairy predictable but I liked the way it was done. If you like rom-coms, or British comedy in general, I’d recommend giving this one a go.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Ben Palmer

Writer: Tess Morris

Main cast: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Rory Kinnear, Sharon Horgan, Ken Stott, Harriet Walter

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Trish (Emily Rose) owns a cupcake parlour and has no time for love, but that doesn’t stop her sister Chloe (Alesandra Durham) setting her up on a blind breakfast date with a man called Adam. But Trish forgets to set her clock forward for Daylight Saving Time and turns up unaware that she is over an hour late. She ends up meeting a man who she thinks is Adam, but he is actually Parker (Barry Watson)- an understandably confused paramedic who goes along with the ruse and – surprise! – they both end up having a wonderful day together. But what will happen when Trish learns Parker’s true identity? And what secrets is Parker himself hiding?…

This is a romantic comedy, with possibly more focus on the romantic aspect than the comedy. Nonetheless, it’s enjoyable, lighthearted fare, with a couple of charismatic leads. As I’ve said in reviews of other movies of this ilk, the ending is guessable from the start, but it’s still fun getting there. I also thought the supporting cast – especially Scott Christopher as Parker’s friend Tom – was excellent.

No doubt the storyline is a bit fluffy and overly sentimental in places, but if you like the romantic genre, you may want to give this one a try. And all the talk of cupcakes will certainly make your mouth water!!

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Brian Brough

Writer: Brittany Wiscombe

Main cast: Emily Rose, Barry Watson, Scott Christopher, Shona Kay, Aubrey Reynolds, Alesandra Durham

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After four years of dating with no proposal, Anna (Amy Adams) is fed up of waiting. So when boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) is working in Dublin during Leap Year, she decides to take advantage of an old tradition and travel from Boston to Ireland to propose. But the plane gets diverted and she has to rely on surly Irishman Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her to Dublin. Although they detest each other on sight, she needs the transport and he needs the money, and well…you can probably guess the rest…

Okay, so lets be honest – the ending of this film is pretty predictable. You only really need to read the synopsis to guess how things turn out, and that is usually the case with romantic comedies. But in this case, the journey – both for the characters and the viewers – is so much fun that you just don’t care. Personally I loved this movie. I thought it was genuinely funny – there’s lots of slapstick humour and physical comedy – and there was genuine chemistry between the two main stars. I’ve read other reviews of this film and it does seem to be something of a Marmite movie, where people either love or hate it, and I definitely fall into the love territory. The comedy moments were genuinely comedic and the romance scenes were genuinely romantic. Amy Adams is adorable as Anna, in a role that could have just been plain annoying but in which she injected enough sympathy to make us actually like this young woman. Matthew Goode was also excellent as Declan – his accent slipped a couple of times, but only a couple.

If you like rom-coms, I would highly recommend this film. Give it a go, I doubt you will be disappointed.

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Year of release: 2010

Director: Anand Tucker

Writers: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont

Main cast: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott

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Well, I don’t mind admitting that I am a bit of a sucker for this type of film. Going in, you know what you’re getting, and they are undemanding and entertaining. Perfect in fact after a busy day at work, when you just want something to make you smile and relax. Yes, sometimes you want something deep and that requires concentration and of course some people absolutely hate rom-coms, but if you like them, then you could do a lot worse than check out A Dash of Love.

The story revolves around a self-taught chef named Nikki (Jen Lilley) who loses her job when her boss at the local diner retires. She eventually finds work as a PA for her idol, celebrity chef Holly Hansen (Peri Gilpin) but finds that Holly is not quite the boss she would have hoped for (basically the saying that you should never meet your heroes rings very true here).

However, the job does have one perk – executive chef Paul (Brendan Penny). After the initial awkward first meeting (traditional in this kind of film), they end up hitting it off and – you won’t be surprised to hear – end up starting to fall for each other. And when things start to go wrong for Holly in her job, Paul is there to help her.

I thought the lead characters in this were utterly charming and the acting was fine. There was genuine chemistry between the Nikki and Paul, and Peri Gilpin was also excellent as Holly Hansen.

Okay, so this made for television movie is never going to win any awards and it’s not going to change the future of film – but if you want something light and fluffy which will leave you with a smile on your face, you could do a lot worse than give this a whirl.

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Christie Will

Writers: Judith Berg, Sandra Berg, Sib Ventress

Main cast: Jen Lilley, Brendan Penny, Peri Gilpin, Kandyse McClure, Frances Flanagan, Eric Pollins

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If you’re looking for a film that challenges you, surprises you and throws lots of twists at you…yeah, you’re going to need to look elsewhere. This film is exactly what you’re going to expect it to be, and you’ll know it from the first 20 minutes. BUT, that’s something that you tend to find with rom-coms – it’s not the ending that gets you, it’s the journey that takes you there. And as entertaining journeys go, this one is not half bad. I watched this on a Saturday night, after a busy week, when I wanted something undemanding and not in any way distressing to watch. If that’s what you want too, then this film is ideal.

Former best friends Faye and Lydia (Michele Scarabelli and Jennifer Juniper Angeli) have been at loggerheads for the past ten years, opening rival bakeries in Emeryville, Ohio, and competing against each other in the annual pumpkin pie contest. In the latest contest they decide that their children Casey and Sam (Julie Gonzalo and Eric Aragon) should take over their roles, compete against each other and pass the feud down to the next generation. But Casey and Sam start to fall for each other, and can’t reveal their romance for fear of upsetting their mothers.

I liked the film a lot, because I knew what it was going to be when I started it, and that was exactly what I needed. Yes, it’s predictable and a bit contrived, but it does have a particular charm that kept me watching. Julie Gonzalo was lovely as Casey and I could definitely identify with her lack of culinary skills! Eric Aragon was less convincing as Sam but this didn’t really detract from my enjoyment. What can I say? I like rom-coms, I like knowing what’s going to happen and I like a happy ending.

Overall, an enjoyable but totally unsurprising movie. Perfect for those nights when you want something entertaining that doesn’t take too much brain work!

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Year of release: 2016

Director: Steven R. Monroe

Writer: Nina Weinman

Main cast: Julie Gonzalo, Eric Aragon, Michele Scarabelli, Jennifer-Juniper Angeli

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In this three part drama, Helen McCrory plays Julie, a 44 year old married mother of two, who falls in love with Aaron, a young man in his mid-20s. They meet because Julie is a wedding planner at a posh hotel, and Aaron is a wedding guest devastated that a girl he dated is now marrying his brother. However, their relationship takes them both by surprise and Julie finds herself with a dilemma on her hands – does she stay in her stale marriage where she feels underappreciated, or does she take a chance and leave with the young man who makes her feel alive? And can such a romance ever really survive in the real world?

I enjoyed this a lot, but there is no denying that it is not the cheeriest of watches. The first episode moves fairly slowly as it sets up the background to the romance, but the second and third episodes pick up the pace. However, it bounces back and forth between moments of joy and bliss, and moments of sadness and anger. And it always seemed that just as Julie was about to find a chance at real happiness something would come along to throw her off course.

The acting was pretty much excellent. Helen McCrory was excellent and utterly believable as Julie. Sean Gallagher was also great as her husband, who has problems of his own, which impact on their lives. Callum Turner was also great as Aaron, although as a woman of a similar age of Julie, I struggled to see the attraction! Yes he was nice looking but he was also sulky and a bit self-absorbed. Nick Dunning and Deborah Findlay came across well as his parents, who struggled to understand his attraction to this older married woman, although his mother had some understanding of what it was to want to feel passionate and alive again.

I’m not going to spoil the ending for anyone, but I will say that it was the most believable ending I could have imagined for this couple. Would I recommend it? Well yes, probably – but be prepared to feel on a bit of a downer afterwards.

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Year of release: 2012

Director: Gaby Dellal

Writer: Tony Marchant

Main cast: Helen McCrory, Callum Turner, Sean Gallagher

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I first saw this film when it came out in 1985, and thought it was well past overdue another look. I do believe that this was the film that first made me aware of Daniel Day-Lewis, and upon rewatching it, it’s easy to see the star quality that subsequently helped him become such a huge name, and a three time winner at the Oscars.

My Beautiful Laundrette tells the story of the homosexual, mixed race love affair between Omar (Gordon Warnecke) and Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis). Omar is a young man trapped between two cultures and indeed two relatives – his alcoholic father, who has both intelligence and integrity, and his capitalist uncle, who has money but considerably less scruples. Johnny is one of a group of thugs, but he genuinely wants to change his ways, and like Omar is trapped between the world that he came from and the world that he is moving into. Together they revamp Omar’s uncle’s rundown laundrette, but with both of them with a foot in two worlds, and unable to reveal their relationship to their nearest and dearest, their lives get complicated and fraught with tension.

I should say that this film is so much more than the relationship between the two men. It’s also a social commentary, with some scenes of racism that were uncomfortable to watch. Seeing Omar skirt on the fringes of his uncle’s employee Salim’s criminal enterprise, while Johnny was simultaneously trying to become a better person was an interesting comparison, as was witnessing the success of Omar’s uncle, compared to the dismal life that his father led, despite being the more intelligent and principled of the two men.

The film definitely portrayed an authentic atmosphere of living in a run-down neighbourhood with few prospects, and the frustration of feeling trapped, but through it all, the hopefulness of Omar and Johnny both in their relationship and in their business came through.

I would say that some of the acting was not brilliant, but Daniel Day-Lewis was (of course) outstanding, and special credit also to Roshan Seth as Omar’s father.

I definitely enjoyed this film and highly recommend it.

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Year of release: 1985

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Hanif Kureishi

Main cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Said Jeffrey, Gordon Warnecke, Roshan Seth

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