Film Review: PAPER YEAR (Canada 2017)

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Paper Year Poster
Young newlyweds encounter a series of challenges during the first year of their marriage.


Rebecca Addelman


Two newly married young lovers with no money face life’s challenges.

The film’s premise sounds like many a newlywed’s demise. Which means that either the story might tend to be very relevant or too boring to many.

PAPER YEAR opens with an old romantic tune (“Young Love” by Sonny James) played on the soundtrack as the lovers run around kissing.  It is revealed that there are just married.  Dan (Avan Jogia) and Franny (Eve Hewson) are happy but poor.

However, the marriage is a paper one – one that has taken place in court but without a full wedding reception.  Franny does not truly believe that a real wedding (if there is no big ceremony) has taken place though the couple is legally married.  Hence, the title of the film – PAPER YEAR.

As it goes, Franny gets a job on some production company of some silly sports reality show called “Goosed” where she meets the boss Gavin (Brooks Gray) and Noah (Hamish Linklater), the head writer, who both try to make the moves on her.  Franny has the sexual hots for Noah.  When Franny’s friend advises Franny to remember that Noah is ‘not special’, the audience immediately knows that Franny is gong to be unfaithful to her husband with Noah.  Dan is no angel either.  When alone. he watches porn or goes on on-line chatting sites.

The cast is made up of unknowns with only Andie MacDowell as the only recognizable name playing Franny’s mother Joanne.  The unfamiliar cast give the film a fresh look, at least, where the audience do not have any preconceived notions of past characters.  The supporting cast like Gray and Linklater have got some minor roles on TV and little films.

The question that obviously comes to mind is the purpose of the film?  The fact that despite all the problems the couple could face (in-laws, kids, money, friends), it is infidelity that is chosen as the couple’s main life challenge after marriage.  Franny finally gives in to her temptations to her attraction for her co-worker Noah after a dinner party gone awry.  This occurs around two-thirds into the film, so that the film just meanders initially.  Then now wonders where the film will be leading after the problem arises.

PAPER YEAR is one of those Canadian films that pretends to be American with references to cities like Nye York and Arcadia, even though it does not come across very convincing.  It would have worked better if the film remain fully Canadian despite having a smaller target audience.  

Written and directed by a female, Rebecca Adelson. the film takes the female point of view though making the female also the one at fault or the one causing the rift in the couple’s relationship.  It is Franny that gets into Dan’s diary and she that cheats on Dan.  The female is the main breadwinner, with the steady job while the man is just a dog walker.  The film also takes a pessimistic view of life.

PAPER YEAR moves at a leisurely pace with not much but little happenings, making the film light entertaining drama with a few light touches of comedy.  The twist ending (not to be revealed in this review) is what is supposed to make this film special.


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