MY LAST FIVE GIRLFRIENDS
Review by Christina Zawadiwsky, moviescribes.com
My Last Five Girlfriends, a British film released on DVD on January 25th by Tribeca Film/New Video, is highly reminiscent of John Cusack in the classic American film High Fidelity. Adapted from the book On Love by Alain de Botton, director Julian Kemp states that he first wrote 25 different drafts of the script: all in the mind, traditional romance, all in the present, set in Spain, etc., and what remains is a subtle and surrealistic many-special-effects extravaganza that works!
Brendan Patricks, who plays protagonist Duncan (using the rides at a fair as an analogy), takes us on a tour of an amusement park called ‘DuncanWorld’ where we go on “rides” with his up-and-down escapades with his last five girlfriends, Wendy, Olive, Rhona, Natalie, and Gemma. Insecure about relationships and what they should entail, although highly literate and holding down a good white-collar job as an architect, like many of us Duncan makes the most of his emotional mistakes with his partners, seeking the one with whom he can stay forever. My Last Five Girlfriends is fast-paced and enjoyable as entertainment, despite Duncan’s angst, to which many can relate, and it is clever, the special effects adding to its watchability.
Wendy (Kelly Adams) had a skeleton (an ex-boyfriend whom she still loved) in her closet, even though she and Duncan got along famously. Olive (Jane March) was companionable “but I couldn’t tell who she was!”, and Duncan feared even telling her that he was allergic to chocolate, with disastrous results. Rhona (Cecile Cassel) filled him with distaste because of her, to him, unfashionable red boots, underscoring the fact that their likes and dislikes were definitely not the same. Natalie (Edith Bukovics) at first seemed a bit of a tramp and then blended into him so much he couldn’t tell who was who. Gemma (Naomie Harris) proved to be the real thing, true love, but felt that he was too good for her. All of this is set against the exciting backdrop of the present-day London yuppie scene.
At the beginning of the film Duncan was ready to commit suicide, writing in his farewell note that “What you’ve collectively done to me is quite an achievement . . . . Four years ago I believed in love but now I know it’s a lie,” and “After reading this you might feel your only option is to join me, and I wouldn’t blame you.” But he survives—strangely never having taken what could have killed him—to meet yet another possibility.
A fine cast of sensitively-played female characters, all of whom are witty and awkward and sophisticated and clinging and endearing in turns, reminds us of the bumps-in-the-road of any youth’s dating scenario, something just about all of us come to endure at one point or another. Identifiable, but exotic to Americans because of its British flavor, I recommend My Last Five Girlfriends as an escape movie, one that will let you forget your daily life while remembering stormy and endearing romances in your own past.