“Refreshing, funny and relatable enough to win you over”
Right at the beginning of Plus One, Jack Quaid’s Ben hits the nail on the head when it comes to the often nightmarish process of growing older and hitting life’s milestones – “I feel like once everybody saw thirty on the horizon, they were like, ‘hey guys, you know what? I would like to get engaged’”.
Anyone in their mid-to-late twenties who has scrolled through Facebook recently has probably experienced it; a barrage of left hands with big shiny rocks, exclamations of ‘I said yes!’ and then, inevitably, the photo album of people from school that you didn’t really like, wearing fancy suits and white lacy dresses. Plus One chronicles this sensation through Ben (Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine), two college friends who decide to be each other’s date throughout an especially busy wedding season, so as to avoid falling too deeply into the pit of loneliness exacerbated by being seated at the singles table.
Timelined nicely through a series of cringeworthy, hilarious and heartfelt best man/maid of honour speeches, Plus One effortlessly captures the seemingly incessant feed of engagements, weddings, baby scans and house-buying announcements that we’re increasingly exposed to as we get older.
Alice has just been through a break-up and vents her frustration at her little sister getting married before her, whilst Ben is so focused on looking for ‘the one’ that he’s blind to the great relationships he already has. Their romance blossoms in a sweet, organic way, and concerns at the start that they fit far too neatly into tropes of a manic pixie dream girl and womanising commitment-phobe are dispelled as we get to know the characters better. The script is sharp, funny in a way that feels true to how people actually talk, and is delivered smartly and sincerely by Quaid, Erskine, and the supporting cast around them.
Whilst earnest in its depiction of feeling left behind in the romantic rat race, Plus One seems a little confused about what it’s ultimately trying to say about singledom and relationships. On the one hand, the film is keen to get across the idea that there isn’t really such a thing as ‘the one’ – but on the other, not once does the film show someone who is happy being single, or that there is an alternative to the traditional pursuit of marriage. Then again, that idea wouldn’t result in the usual kind of happy ending we look for from these kinds of movies.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a rom-com fan or tend to scoff at the genre; despite its predictability, Plus One is refreshing, funny and relatable enough to win you over. With visuals this slick, writing this good and two lead characters this likeable, wedding season doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Dir: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
Script: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
Cast: Jack Quaid, Maya Erskine
Images courtesy of Red Hour Films and Studio71