At the opening of Marion Pilowsky’s new rom-com, Ronnie (Emily Taheny) and Henry (Eddie Izzard) are getting cosy on an Adelaide film set – she is the caterer and he is the star, and they are going to move to London together. Cut to five years later – Ronnie is still in Adelaide, struggling to keep her restaurant and family afloat and getting little help from her writer boyfriend Jeff (Luke McKenzie). Then, Henry suddenly gets in touch – he will be in Adelaide to promote his new film, so what’s the harm in catching up? Well, once you add in their current partners – ignorant of this shared past – and scenarios that spiral towards an Outback road trip, the stage is set for flames to reignite and comedic awkwardness to rule the day.
The Flip Side does not redefine the rom-com; indeed, it occasionally leans into the most frustrating, cringeworthy aspects of the genre. Miscommunications are rife and cringe comedy threatens to swallow some scenes whole. As the partners, McKenzie and Vanessa Guide get the most thankless roles, pushed towards broad stereotypes of the clueless self-absorbed boyfriend and the high-maintenance French snob. Taheny and Izzard have more to play with, selling the wistful unease underlying Ronnie and Henry’s interactions and the innate, horrible hilarity of their predicament. While Izzard’s comic timing is unsurprisingly impeccable, Taheny steals the film as her no-nonsense chef is put in increasingly ridiculous situations. She keeps audiences firmly on her side throughout the romantic trials, earning a very fitting happy ending.
There is nothing unduly special about The Flip Side, a fairly standard rom-com that balances out the genre’s worst elements with charming performances and a surprisingly strong third act. It is a pleasant, perfectly entertaining two hours, though it may not stick long in the memory afterwards.
CAST: Eddie Izzard, Emily Taheny, Vanessa Guide, Luke McKenzie
DIRECTOR: Marion Pilowsky
WRITERS: Marion Pilowsky, L. A. Sellars
SYNOPSIS: Five years after an on-set affair ended abruptly, a British film star and Australian chef reunite on a road trip gone wrong.