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Movie Review: Long Story Short (2021) *Very minor spoilers*

Written and directed by Australian actor, Josh Lawson, Long Story Short is a fun rom-com about putting things off until the 'right' time and maybe how that isn't a good strategy for life.

Rafe Spall plays Teddy, a guy who has a reputation for putting things off, and waiting too long to act on important decisions like setting a wedding date to his fiance, Leanne (Zahra Newman). It's not that he's lazy or unmotivated, it's just that he likes to wait for the perfect time to act.

One day while visiting his father's grave he meets a strange woman (Noni Hazlehurst) who promises to give him a gift on his wedding day. Teddy doesn't think too much of it but then, on his wedding day, he jumps forward a year in time, where Leanne is celebrating their one year wedding anniversary.

Teddy barely has time to comprehend his predicament before he flashes forward to their two year anniversary.

Long Story Short inevitably will be compared to the Bill Murray movie, Ground Hog Day, and other similar films, however in this movie Teddy isn't actually reliving the same day over and over. He's still living his life in between jumps, he just doesn't actually recall any of it because his present consciousness is still on the day he was married. Essentially he's skipping forward and getting a glimpse of where his life is at in one year intervals.

I've read a few reviews criticising this story for being very basic and predictable, and they're not entirely wrong. You can easily see where Teddy will be by the end of the film, assuming there's no major plot twist you don't see coming... minor spoiler... there isn't a twist, it ends exactly as you think it might.

That aside, the movie is all about the journey and Rafe Spall turns in a highly engaging performance as Teddy, with great support from Zahra Newman who completely sells the passing years despite never appearing to age all that much at all (though to be fair, people who generally look after themselves often don't noticeably age all that much over a decade).

Ronny Chieng who plays Sam, Teddy's best mate, and Dena Kaplin as Becka, also convincingly sell the notion that time has passed for Teddy but for them, they've actually lived the years that he skips through. (Should Josh Lawson happen to read this review... sequel with Dena as Becka... yes please).

Another criticism I've read of the film is that it's very generic, it could be set anywhere. It doesn't scream 'Australian film'. I think that was kind of the point. If not, I still see it as a strength. It's entirely about the characters, not the location, with a theme that is fairly universal and relatable.

Overall I enjoyed this, particularly as a good Valentine's Day movie (went with my partner to see it that day). It's not too challenging or deep. Most of the humor landed for me, and I came out feeling good about how it all panned out.


Minor Spoilers Section

If you're like me and you'll see any movie with a time travel theme, just to see how they explain the mechanics of how time travel works in the context of the film, then this movie may be slightly disappointing. There's no real explanation given here.

It's possibly a magic totem gifted by 'the stranger' (Noni Hazlehurst), or it could all have been Teddy's dream - at least those are my conclusions. It's not really important to the story but, if you're reading this Josh, Becka sequel with Dena Kaplin flashing forward through time please!

Regardless, it's not really important to the film how Teddy's time jumps actually work, and I did find it refreshing that each jump happened pretty much in the real time of the film.


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