Ah Valentine’s Day… Hallmark’s favourite made up day to make single people feel like crap and couples feel very smug. Not for nothing is Standby set on this particular date. Alan (Brian Gleeson) is a lovelorn schlub, yawning his way through another day in a tourist hut in Dublin Airport. Things have been crappy for a while and his situation isn’t bettered by living with his perennially pyjama wearing divorced dad and working alongside his mum. Something has to change. The nadir is reached when an anonymous Valentine’s Day card predictably turns out to be from his mother. Into this walks Alice (Jessica Paré), a woman who he was in a serious relationship with 8 years previous. She is on standby for a flight home to New York. They decide to spend the night in Dublin together. Can they rekindle their love for each other?”
Of course fans of the genre may well know what is coming. But as is the way with these things the fun is in the journey even if the resolution is never really in doubt. The two travel around Dublin generally from pub to pub. One of the best jokes is the running one about there not being anything else to do in Dublin other than the pub. The weak suggestions from Alan when asked about other things to do are excellent and on the money. Nonetheless the night has an element of the ‘Before’ trilogy with the two of them walking and talking their way around Dublin. There is also a touch of the Out of Towners here with some episodic and frantic situations they get into. There is fine support from actors such as Stanley Townsend as Alan’s dad and a truly superb turn from Francesca Cherruault as Alan’s French friend Beatrice. She steals some of the early scenes with ease.
The episodic plot is perhaps the weak point of the film. Some of them feel a little disjointed. This may well be down to the fact that the film was shot in two locations. But this is a small complaint as the fine work by the two leads carry it through. Standby is what is referred to now as a good old fashioned feel good film. This is not damning it with faint praise. That kind of film is difficult to put together, the balance has to be just so. The two leads, Mad Men’s Jessica Paré and Brian Gleeson are very good and very good together which is crucial. This last part is what rom coms live or die on. They are helped by unfussy direction by Rob and Ronan Burke making their feature debut. The script by Peirce Ryan has some very funny moments including some lovely wordplay and sight gags. It is also quite a warm hearted script, with some touching moments with a particular scene involving a phone camera that is quite lovely. The wheel has not been reinvented here but in this case that is no bad thing. Standby is unashamedly broad and warm and with the right marketing could play very well across the world.