Life in a Year review Cara Delevingne and Jaden Smith in vacuous cancer weepie

“I don’t believe in happy endings,” Cara Delevingne shouts at Jaden Smith in this gushing, sobfest cancer romance. She plays Izzy, a Pittsburgh teenager diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer and given less than a year to live. Izzy is a character you might recognise from other movies: the pretty cancer-patient girlfriend. Her job here is to be life-affirmingly brave and then die (tastefully), thus enriching her boyfriend Daryn (Smith) with a tragic yet alluring backstory.

Which is a shame, because Delevingne gives an impressive performance; not convincing exactly, but likable and charismatic. And to be fair, Izzy is a paper-thin character – on paper, she must have looked like a collection of cliches. Izzy grows up on the wrong side of town, raised from the age of six by the babysitter after her drug-addict mum walked out. She’s tattooed and tough on the outside, with blue hair, and a sweet-natured and courageous soul.

Smith, on the other hand, is a tad bland as rich kid Daryn, an outstanding student being groomed for greatness by his dad (Cuba Gooding Jr). Secretly, Daryn dreams of becoming a rapper; and here’s where Izzy comes in useful with her grab-life-while-you-can dying-girl wisdom. The pair meet when they both gatecrash a rap gig. Izzy nicknames Daryn “Square”. The blue hair turns out to be a wig: she lost her hair during chemo. When he finds out she’s dying, Daryn decides to cram a lifetime of milestones into their short year together. The upbeat montages of the two seizing the day and the slo-mo panic dashes to A&E feel like scenes shuffled from a dozen terminal-illness weepies. Depressingly, Izzy seems to have absolutely no friends or dreams of her own.

Nothing here is real-world or complicated – though there are a couple of conspicuous attempts: in one scene, Smith dons a pair of rubber gloves to wash a bedpan. It’s a fairytale high on teenage narcissism: parents are either absent or eventually humbled by their wise-hearted offspring. Still, as these films always do, it gets you in the end with a left hook to the tear ducts. I was genuinely seething at being manipulated by such mawkish baloney.