Film Review: 'Almost Married'

★☆☆☆☆
Exactly the sort of unforgivable dross that represents a stunning indictment of the British filmmaking machine, Ben Cookson's Almost Married (2014) is a crushingly unconvincing sex comedy that may not surpass 2004's Sex Lives of the Potato Men in its grotesqueness, but certainly reminds you of it - which is bad enough. A film primarily about how hilarious it is to catch a sexually transmitted disease, but the only thing worse than sitting through Almost Married is finding out mid-way through you've contracted chlamydia just by process of visual osmosis. Kyle (Philip McGinley) is soon to be married, but on his stag do he's infected with an STD after a late night sojourn to a seedy brothel.

Kyle is concurrently informed by his doctor that he should avoid having sexual intercourse for three months. However, with a fiancée at home, how does our hero survive? Advising him along the way is his best man Jarvis (Mark Stobbart), the sort of village idiot character you'd think has mild autism, who never gets round to telling Kyle that cheating on his girlfriend makes him an utter, chauvinistic buffoon. Instead, Jarvis formulates a plan for Kyle to avoid detection, from lying to his fiancée, to denying her sex, to spending weekends away "fishing". Emily Atack (Charlotte from sitcom The Inbetweeners) is fiancée Lydia - filmed by Cookson just on the irksome side of glossy - the sort of female character that could have added warmth to the film's central relationship. Sadly, she's kept on the periphery.

Worse than a cipher, Lydia is the type of stock blonde who, in a moment of apparent seriousness, describes marriage as "one willy, one fanny forever". McGinley and Stobbart are admirably open with their performances - nudity, warts and all - but any relationship between Atack and McGinley has the romantic chemistry of a dinner for two in a sex clinic. It's easy to dismiss this as schoolboy humour, but when Almost Married doesn't portray female characters as anything other than a little stroppy when their husband stops having sex with them, that's simply egregious. Laughing with the film would probably promote the same kind of moral issues one would have watching a public execution for fun, but thankfully there's barely a joke that registers. To top it off, after enduring a mercifully short runtime, Almost Married ends with the kind of twist ending that completely negates everything before it.

Ed Frankl

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