(Written for HeyUGuys)
Directed by writer Jamie Linden and serving as his directorial debut, 10 Years follows a group of friends who come together for their 10-year high school reunion. Jake (Channing Tatum) is preparing to propose to his girlfriend Jess (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), his ex-highschool flame Mary (Rosario Dawson) has already married, husband and wife Cully (Chris Patt) and Sam (Ari Graynor) are stressed from their family routine, Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella) are trying to impress the hottest girl in class (Lynn Collins), and rock star Reeves (Oscar Isaacs) is hoping to finally talk to his high school crush Elise (Kate Mara). As tensions run high and the night progresses, the group are made to contemplate what their own lives have become as well as what they might have been.
Inspired by the director’s own reunion, 10 Years is a realistic drama with genuine characters. Only using the script as a guideline, with actors incorporating their own experiences into the story, everything feels authentic and unforced because, well, it is. This realism is 10 Years biggest quality. Whilst some of what we see is familiar, it never feels like we have seen any of it before.
What the story does best is distinguish itself from the clichés of living happily ever after; some people aren’t happy with their married lives, others with their perfect jobs, and the popular girl isn’t living the dream. Although there are a couple of happy endings intertwined, reconciling relationships with ex lovers and people some used to bully, there is a good balance of embarrassments, surprises, accomplishments and forgiveness to not leave you feeling depressed because it never works out or disappointed because you know that real life pans out very differently. Instead, 10 Years feels like that for 100 minutes we could be at an actual reunion with these people.
There isn’t a huge amount of story, as 10 Years comes off as quite a low-key drama, but life is not always full of melodrama so it still works incredibly well. With a few poignant moments, everybody still has a story to tell. This observational approach means that if you can connect with the characters then you will enjoy the bitter-sweet story it follows, as most of the audience will find something to relate to with the characters all having something to achieve over the night. It may not be overly compelling or deep, but it will fill you with a warmth, and maybe even a little hopeful about your own future. After receiving the DVD at the beginning of last week, I’ve watched it every night since, sometimes even twice, because it really does have that feel good factor.
Another strong quality of 10 Years is its ensemble cast. Channing Tatum leads the drama brilliantly alongside his real-life wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum, who plays his girlfriend. With Tatum starring in Linden-written Dear John and the couple already having worked together in Step Up, it’s obvious that Linden put a lot of thought into pulling this cast together. Tatum has certainly given some diverse performances over the last year, but this has to be one of my favourites from him.
With excellent supporting roles from the likes of Rosario Dawson, Justin Long, Chris Pratt, Ari Graynor, and Aubrey Plaza, too, the cast of 10 Years constantly feels very comfortable. The biggest surprise for me though was Oscar Isaac, who performs a lovely song mid way through the film which adds another heartfelt layer to the film that you probably wouldn’t expect from him. With most of the actors having worked together before, as well, each of the characters have a great chemistry, especially between the couples who are all very likeable.
It’s a shame that 10 Years didn’t get a theatrical release over here in the UK, so I implore you to buy this on DVD to add to your collection. The DVD is released on 8th April.