Director: Julian Kemp Release Date: 19/03/10 Meet Duncan, a man not so much saved by love as thoroughly destroyed by it. My Last Five Girlfriends opens with Duncan (Brendan Patricks) swigging vodka and scribbling a suicide note, in which he squarely pins the blame for his demise on the eponymous ladies, and what they have collectively done to him. Based on Alain de Botton’s Essays in Love, the film is a stylised and highly self-conscious tour around Duncan’s love life, visually realised as a rather low-budget theme park. There’s some stop motion animation, rather manic montage, plenty of freeze frames, and more ironic meanderings than you could shake a broken heart at. This is a clever film, and whizzes through a series of engaging dilemmas with a lightness of touch: can you love two people at once? Is the elusive ‘spark’ important? Can you work at love? And does it really matter if you don’t like their shoes? But the film’s flaws are, sadly, all too noticeable as it progresses. Perhaps the key are the “essays” it’s based on: this is not a cohesive, three dimensional narrative. And five girlfriends is a lot to handle, resulting in the feeling that they are merely vehicles for another quirky philosophical question that’s barely fleshed out before you’re steered to the next one. This is the particularly the case with poor Olive, who’s on screen just long enough for our hero to wonder about the different personalities he tries on in order to impress her. All this conspires to make things feel a little gimmicky, and when Duncan is finally heartbroken, it’s hard to take seriously. One of the film’s most engaging moments comes when Gemma (girlfriend No. 5, played by the charming Naomie Harris) reads a letter to Duncan explaining why she has left him. Suddenly, love is rendered a living, breathing thing between two people rather than a series of pithy, aloof observations. This is an unusual and fairly diverting film, and worth the watch for its clever insights and flashes of wit. Just don’t expect to be swept off your feet. Photobucket