Do you think that Karen Gillan is universally charming? If so, you might actually like Not Another Happy Ending. Otherwise, it is only a just-tolerable Scottish rom-com.

Jane (Gillan) is a young woman whose father (Gary Lewis) walked out on her seventh birthday, which is coincidentally the day on which her mother dropped dead in a Woolworth’s. About twenty years later she writes a wildly popular semi-autobiographical novel that apparently is really, really sad and touching (although it sounds rather less bleak than the average run of modern books). Naturally, her second book, if successful, will save the publisher to whom she is contracted. This is of course a tiny, picturesque publishing house owned by an unshaven, picturesque Frenchman named Tom (Stanley Weber). (Because those exist. Tons of publishing houses have owners who are young, handsome Frenchmen and only one author at a time. All publishers send their owners out to cafés to work through paper manuscripts with the writers.)

But here’s the twist! She’s too happy to write another cripplingly sad novel! Her dad is back, she’s dating a screenwriter and has a beautiful apartment, and her hair is glorious! In movie-logic, the solution is for the picturesque Frenchman to kill Jane’s houseplants and try to sabotage her relationship so that she’s miserable enough to write again.

So this is what happens, and sometimes it’s pleasantly kooky: Tom’s best friend teaches English, but constantly and flagrantly lies to his students. Most of the time, though, it’s ham-fisted and incompetent. Jane’s boyfriend is pretentious and condescending to the point where he doesn’t even make sense as the required lousy relationship in a romantic comedy. On a front where you might think we’d have this covered, there’s what is clearly supposed to be a passionate and deeply romantic kiss, at a key moment in the movie. It’s fine in the close up, but then the camera pulls back and the body language is like eleven-year-olds at their first school dance. Oh, and Jane both writes and bakes naked, because…someone incorrectly thought a man would ever watch this, I guess.

Stray notes:

  • Gary Lewis is great as the newly-back, really-bad-at-emotions dad. It’s what he does. But he’s wasted on this.
  • Jane’s relentlessly quirky wardrobe is so, so irritating: all bowlers and cropped, pleated tweed trousers and lady-neckties. Rescue yourself from this, Gillan.
  • Oh, and just when you thought it couldn’t get more twee? The heroine of Jane’s (unfinished) second novel shows up and gives her life advice.
  • I started this review having given the movie 3/5, but then I thought about it more and realized you really need to watch it when you have about 15% of your attention to give it, or it’s no good.

Director: John McKay
Rating: PG-13?
Length: 102 min.
Score: 2/5.