Directed by Josh Lawson
Starring Rafe Spall, Zahra Newman, Ronny Chieng
A perpetual procrastinator, Teddy (Rafe Spall) finds himself even more pressed for time when he is magically transported a year into the future on his wedding day. As he experiences only a few minutes each year, Teddy struggles to stop his time shifting and to save his marriage with Leanne (Zahra Newman).
Long Story Short is exactly what it’s wanting to be, a romantic comedy with a dose of magical reality, and doesn’t really break from that mould. This ends up both a weakness and a strength for it, as it’s carried by the charisma of its two principles. Spall is pride of place, appearing in every scene, and playing it large for the cameras with a verbalised monologue that’s almost a stream of consciousness. It gives us a great insight into the character, but breaks any attempt of movie reality for this gabby time tripper.
Still, as you are watching a rom-com about a man unstuck in time, due to a magical Noni Hazlehurst, that may be a slightly unrealistic expectation. The heavy use of music cues is perhaps a bit more grating, coming off as too obviously manipulative of the audience, not trusting the actors to carry it by themselves, or with a more subtle aid.
Despite those faults Long Story Short is a charming film. Rafe Spall’s motormouth Teddy might constantly self obsessively overshare, but he’s also funny and enchanting. Zahra Newman manages to be captivating, and holds her own with Teddy, with much less verbiage. Together they have a great onscreen chemistry, and that really is the magic ingredient for this genre, making people actually care about the fate of the couple on screen.
Writer/ director Josh Lawson manages to walk the line between self indulgent and self reflective for this character journey, and in truth, the tale needs both for Teddy to function as a character. Coming to terms with seizing life and appreciating the moment are a huge part of his arc. Using that, Lawson gives us an economically told and enjoyable story that warms the cockles of the heart.