Rafe Spall and Stephen Merchant give it laldy on the dancefloor

Rafe Spall (Josh) and Stephen Merchant (Danny) in I GIVE IT A YEAR
Rafe Spall (Josh) and Stephen Merchant (Danny) in I GIVE IT A YEAR

There are rom-coms and rom-can’ts. No prizes for guessing on which side this one falls. Written and directed by Dan Mazer, who scripted the anarchic comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen, from Ali G to The Dictator, I Give It A Year is buttock-deep in the detritus of punctured dreams.

Everyone says that the first year of marriage is the hardest.

The love-conquers-all mantra for the emotionally naive has been erased from the frontal lobes of newly weds, Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall), by month six.

What it’s all about now is taking the rubbish to the bins (who does it?) and making passes at old flames at pissy parties.

If you can survive the best man’s speech in the first 15 minutes, you will get the joke by the time the schmoozy, charm schooled, impossibly rich and handsome American (Simon Baker) attempts to seduce Nat with violins and white doves.

Although it’s a romantic satire that explodes in the face of good taste, traditional elements survive.

Beneath the sexual embarrassment and toe-curling crassness of Josh’s behaviour, which makes The Hangover look hungover, good old English contradiction is alive and well.

Olivia Colman of Peep Show and Broadchurch, gives a comic performance of gut-bubbling brilliance as an emotionally dysfunctional marriage guidance councillor.

The spirit of Rickie Gervais lightens the darkness, although Bridget Jones would have a fit.

In these fetid ponds of futile endeavour a sliver of hope occasionally bursts through.