Marriage is, perhaps, the most complicated of human relationships. People get married for any number of reasons, then could decide to stay together, or split up, for different reasons entirely. Regardless of these reasons, the exploration of these complicated, intense, unique relationships has been a staple of film since its inception. In Rebecca Addleman's Paper Year, she tackles the triumphs and struggles of a beautiful young couple who decide to get married without any forethought or planning, therefore without any real idea of exactly what being married actually means. Presenting an engaging reality-based story free of melodrama or clich├ęs found in countless other romantic comedies, Addleman's directorial debut sizzles with a different spin on a love story that is anything but simple.

While the story revolves around a couple, the majority of the story belongs to the wife, Franny, played by Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies). Hewson is understated and believable in her role, digging deep and doubling down, allowing the audience to empathize with her character even as she's making terrible decisions. Addleman's directorial choices, with regard to filming certain scenes, elevate Hewson's performance and allow the two to combine and create a clear picture detailing the harsh differences between fantasy and reality. This plays into the theme of the film and begs the question, what happens when you find out for yourself that the grass that looked fresh and green from afar, is actually dead crab grass?

The script, also penned by Addleman, is tight, with loads of fresh, realistic dialogue. While there are several lulls in the action through the film, they never go too long, and always lead to another intensely interesting situation. The combination of the script and the way the film is shot gives the audience an intimacy with the characters that is not easily achievable. Cinematographer Steven Capitano Calitri clearly understood where Addleman was headed and captures beautifully shot scenes that work to either enhance or juxtapose the characters' situations and feelings in that particular moment.

Taking on a subject as worn as marriage could be an invitation for repetitiveness; however, Addleman's decision to keep her film grounded in reality and focused mostly on one side of the couple sets it apart. It's possible that the film's greatest triumph is the presentation of extremely flawed characters who, even when they've gone and done everything the audience is begging them not to, are still likable and relatable. In achieving this, Addleman gives her audience characters that end up feeling like people they know and love, even when they may want to slap some sense into them. A fresh spin on a tale as old as time, Paper Year is a must see for anyone thinking about jumping feet first into marriage without looking, and for all of the people who are just along for the ride.

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