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D: Justin Hardy / 89m

Cast: Georgia Maguire, Tim Plester, Royce Pierreson, Sarah Jayne Butler, Sarah Barratt, Christopher Leveaux, Bennett Warden, Ludo Hardy

For Becky Williams (Maguire), life at twenty-five isn’t going the way she thought it would. Stuck in a dead-end job in an office, single, and still living with her mother, Becky is beginning to wonder if she’ll ever find true happiness. While her mother is away with her latest boyfriend, Becky also has to look after her eleven year old brother, Olly (Hardy). Things couldn’t get any bleaker. But a couple of unexpected encounters outside of work with her boss, Steve (Plester), hint at the possibility of a romantic relationship, one that grows on Becky the more she considers it. But all this happens while the main object of her would-be affections, another colleague (Pierreson), is on holiday. Should she keep her relationship with Steve going, or wait until her colleague – known only as HIM – returns to work. Fate intervenes and makes the decision for her, but as with most things in Becky’s life, what she hopes for and what actually happens proves to be something completely different, even when she seemingly gets what she wants…

A bright, entertaining romantic comedy, the basic set up of Love Me Till Monday will be familiar to fans of the genre, and even those who only occasionally watch such movies. It’s another underdog movie, where the heroine is faced with disappointment after disappointment in her search for Mr Right. Here, Becky works in an office where she’s very much the “junior”, both in terms of how long she’s been there, and her “accepted” rank with regard to the other female staff: brassy and ebullient receptionist Vicki (Butler), and classy and immaculate contracts manager Carly (Barratt) (of the three it’s noticeable that Becky wears little or no make up at work, such is her lack of confidence). With a quiet, semi-withdrawn personality as well, Becky’s hopes and dreams of finding true love are further hampered by her choice of men. Steve is a charmer outside of work while remaining stern and non-committal at the office, and HIM, though charming wherever he is, has the aura of being too good to be true. How Becky discovers the truth about both of them is the meat of a movie that drifts along from time to time, but in a wistful, breezy fashion that is engaging and often delightful as well.

Much of the movie’s success is down to Maguire’s sterling performance. Making her feature debut, Maguire perfectly inhabits and expresses a life made ordinary by circumstance and banal repetition. As Becky strives – in her own awkward way – to attain the kind of life she believes she needs, Maguire highlights Becky’s naïvete in believing that having the “right man” in her life will make her happier (she even uses a book that contains love spells as a way of securing HIM). With its improvised feel and upbeat rom-com sensibility, the movie works well, though some elements aren’t given enough screen time – or explanation – to work as effectively as they should, such as Becky’s having a book on witchcraft, the reason why she doesn’t appear to have any friends (bar one) outside of work, and why her ambitions relate only to romance. That said, Hardy injects just enough drama into the otherwise lightweight nature of the material to ensure that it’s not all sweetness and casual laughs, and thanks to Matthew Wicks’ deft cinematography, the movie’s Reading backdrop adds to the likeable nature of it all. Naturally, this is a low budget movie, but it’s also one that makes the effort to make the audience forget that it is. And like Becky herself, it’s better, and more deserving, than it looks.

Rating: 7/10 – though Love Me Till Monday has nothing new to offer, what is on offer is a charming, appealing romantic comedy anchored by an equally appealing, and genuine, performance from Maguire; an undemanding watch then, but one that is pleasant and entertaining enough to hold the attention from start to (optimistic) finish.