Not Another Happy Ending is one of the more recent films to have been shot and set in Glasgow, premiering at 2013’s Edinburgh International Film Festival and going on general release later that year. It is a romantic comedy that sees a French publisher set out to make his star writer’s life a misery when he realises that she works best when despondent, and that a recent run of happiness in her life is the cause of a case of writer’s block that is preventing her from laying the next golden egg.
Karen Gillan leads the cast as the aforementioned writer, Jane, with Paris-born Stanley Weber as publisher Tom. The production attracted much attention for being Gillan’s first major film role since taking the high profile part of “companion” Amy Pond in Doctor Who, and pleasingly it’s a good start for a movie career that is continuing to gain momentum with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy being the next release due to carry her name in its credits. She delivers a good, solid performance and most importantly a likeable character. Weber’s Tom is a good character too – an easily riled, lovelorn Frenchman is something different for a Glasgow-set feature.
The strong cast also features Iain De Caestecker, Kate Dickie, Freya Mavor, Gary Lewis and Henry Ian Cusick. Lewis – as Jane’s father, Benny – gives a more subtle performance than he has done in a number of things I’ve seen him in recently, and Cusick is very convincing as a smarmy and obnoxious screenwriter. The prominence of Freya Mavor’s billing on the film is somewhat surprising in relation to the fairly limited amount of time she has on screen compared to Dickie, Lewis and Cusick.
I have a couple of minor criticisms for what I believe is an otherwise very decent film. I felt that the character of Roddy (Tom’s closest friend, played by Iain De Caestecker) was perhaps a bit too cartoonish, even for the quirky environment that the rest of the film paints. And the relationship between Jane and Willie (Henry Ian Cusick) does not seem believable in my opinion.
Let’s get back to the positives though, and a massive green tick for the way in which Glasgow is used in Not Another Happy Ending. There are frequent montages of city views – look out for plenty of landmarks and businesses, including: the Gallery of Modern Art; Jane and Tom in Delizique on Hyndland Street; Graphical House and the Mr Ben retro clothing store on King Street; Hutchesons’ Hall; the Barrowlands; the Necropolis; the Kingston Bridge; Jane running through the rain past the Co-Operative Building on Morrison Street; Jane and Tom standing with Glasgow Cathedral in the background… Given the subject matter there are also a number of book shop appearances – including the real life Voltaire and Rousseau and Waterstones stores, and the former Borders (now Zizzi’s restaurant) building on Royal Exchange Square bearing a “Mocha Books” sign. And a special mention for original locations goes to the use of the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust in Bridgeton, where some of the city’s famous old green and orange buses provide the backdrop for a book launch scene.
But the love letter to Glasgow goes beyond simply showing off the city’s architecture and green spaces. There are nice little nods throughout, from the touristy Glasgow mug on Tom’s desk to Benny’s City of Culture T-Shirt and a soundtrack that includes the likes of Huevo & The Giant and Twin Atlantic.