I Love You Too -- Film Review

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SYDNEY -- American actor Peter Dinklage strolls into the Australian romantic comedy "I Love You Too" and hoists his subplot high above the constraints of the genre. Unfortunately, while Dinklage is raising the bar, the rest of the film is happy to limbo under it.

The screenplay, the first from Melbourne comedian Peter Helliar, is tonally shambolic, careening wildly between the realms of Judd Apatow and Richard Curtis, wringing few laughs from either.

The novelty of a homegrown rom-com in a field dominated by American and Brit product has sparked interest domestically, while the international profiles of Dinklage and Yvonne Strahovski (from NBC's "Chuck") should help when FilmNation takes it to the Cannes market. The film opened in Australia on May 6.

Jim (Brendan Cowell) is a scruffy, 30-something man-child who lives with his pregnant sister and her husband and has the obligatory quirky job as a conductor at a miniature railway. Blake, his partner in arrested development, is played by Helliar, who possibly intended his character's boorishness to be endearing.

Three years into a relationship with the beautiful Alice (Strahovski), Jim's commitment phobia is driving her away. He proves particularly tongue-tied when it comes to returning her declaration of love.

Enter Charlie (Dinklage), a short-statured widower with a grown-up job, a wry outlook and a way with words. For some reason, he agrees to play Cyrano de Bergerac for Jim after the latter tries to steal his car. Their unlikely bromance is just one of a number of clunky plot contrivances that interrupt narrative flow and prevent the film from achieving any particular focus.

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Production values are high, with plenty of rom-com sparkle, and TV veteran Daina Reid's direction is sound. But the script adheres to such rigid conventions that when Charlie's tangential pursuit of an Italian supermodel (Megan Gale) turns unexpectedly poignant, it seems positively subversive.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Market

Production company: Princess Pictures, Screen Australia, Roadshow Films
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Brendan Cowell, Yvonne Strahovski, Peter Helliar, Megan Gale
Director: Daina Reid
Screenwriter: Peter Helliar
Producers: Laura Waters, Yael Bergman
Executive producers: Joel Pearlman, Greg Sitch
Director of photography: Ellery Ryan
Production designer: Jennifer A. Davis
Music: David Hirschfelder
Editor: Ken Sallows
Sales: FilmNation
No rating, 107 minutes
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