Long Story Short
Rafe Spall, Zahra Newman, Dena Kaplan, Ronny Chieng, Noni Hazlehurst, Josh Lawson
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…for those needing a pick-me-up, its breezy sense of humour, strong acting, and commendable grip on its own emotional wavelength make for an effective artistic balm.
One of the great ironies of modern mainstream cinema is how, ever since Edge of Tomorrow came out in 2014, so many time-loop movies have been released that it feels like the audience are stuck in their own temporal-loop. Credit where it’s due, there’s enough creativity within that sub-genre of late to keep it from being too monotonous (Happy Death Day, Palm Springs), but it’s gotten to a point where we need more variation if this is going to keep recurring. And in a way, the sophomore feature from writer/director Josh Lawson (The Little Death) provides just that, although entirely labelling this as a ‘time loop narrative’ doesn’t tell the whole story.
Much like its predecessors, it follows someone (in this case newlywed Teddy, played by British import Rafe Spall) who keeps reliving the same day over and over again. Except that day is his wedding anniversary, and every few minutes, he finds himself pushed forward a year to the next one, and then the next one, and so on. In that respect, it’s a lot closer to Adam Sandler’s Click than Groundhog Day (even as the latter serves as a reference point for the narrative proper), and the intent is much the same: Drawing attention to how quickly time goes by, and just how much you can end up missing without even realising it. Not that Long Story Short succumbs to the same mish-mash of extreme body humour and treacly sentimentality that makes Click so uneven. This is a far more balanced version of that same conceit, anchored by Spall’s naturally-charming personality.
As he’s the character we stay anchored to, Spall (an undervalued modern leading man) being this watchable is important, but he isn’t carrying the film on his lonesome; the supporting cast are just as solid. Zahra Newman as his wife fits nicely into the other side of this temporally-warped relationship, Dena Kaplan as his ex adds some punch to her scenes, and Ronny Chieng as his best mate ranges from warm to downright heartbreaking. Even in a film where the single most depressing moment involves a man and a chocolate bar, Chieng still manages to gently extract tears in a true highlight of his career to date.
Long story short, Long Story Short offers a genuinely fresh spin on what is fast becoming a worn-out genre. It might turn away those with an allergy to the more sentimental side of cinema, but for those needing a pick-me-up, its breezy sense of humour, strong acting, and commendable grip on its own emotional wavelength make for an effective artistic balm.