Director: Rob and Ronan Burke
Cast: Brian Gleeson and Jessica Paré
Running Time: 83 minutes
Release Date: November 14th
Sad sack Alan (Brian Gleeson) is going through a rough patch. He had been recently stood up at the altar and has found himself working alongside his mother in a tourist information office in Dublin Airport having lost his banking job. By chance he runs into Alice (Jessica Paré), with whom he had a summer romance eight years previously and who now finds herself stuck in Dublin on standby for one night before flying back to New York the next morning. Alan decides to take this opportunity to take Alice out for a night in the town. Over the course of this evening is it possible that they will discover that they really were meant to be…
Of course they were meant to be. It’s romantic-comedy convention #1: The two leads are destined to be together. Narratively speaking this film doesn’t break new ground; instead it actively campaigns for its preservation. I mean the film is set on Valentine’s Day for crying out loud what else is going to happen? This is however just nit picking at generic conventions. What matters most is whether or not the film has enough to it that would make us forget the formulaic nature and enjoy it for what it is.
What the film does have is plenty of charm that allows it to move along at a quick pace. While the story does threaten to go into a sort of web of lies type farce, upon hearing that she has a boyfriend, Alan tells Alice that he has a girlfriend himself, convincing his French co-worker to play the role during a dinner, that aspect is thankfully quickly abandoned allowing Alan and Alice themselves to become the main focus of the film. This works, as both Gleeson and Paré are very likable screen presences that only add to the down to earth charm of the characters of Alan and Alice.
There is also an earnestness to the proceedings that is quite refreshing. At no point does it seem that the directors are looking down at the genre or their audience. There is no sense of a post modern attitude of lets point out the conventions of romantic-comedies whilst at the same time conforming to those exact same conventions. There is zero cynicism in the film’s portrayal of true love that adds to the appeal of the film.
While it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, Standby does a pretty good job at engaging us with a story that we may already be familiar with. With just the right levels of sweetness and humour, the film manages to just avoid becoming a little bit naff and instead remain charming and likable throughout.