The Five-Year Engagement (2012) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • In San Francisco, after a year's relationship, Tom proposes to Violet; she accepts. She's an experimental psychologist, hoping for a post-doc at Cal. He's a sous chef who runs the kitchen when the chef is away. When Cal falls through and she gets an offer in Ann Arbor, Tom agrees to support the move, turning down a job as chef at a new restaurant. The move requires postponing the wedding. At Michigan, Violet is in her element, but Tom is underemployed and frustrated; he's Stoic for a while, but when two years in Michigan become four, Tom's frustrations boil over, and on the eve of yet another wedding date, they must make a choice. Is there any other alternative?

  • On New Years Eve, the one year anniversary of their meeting, San Francisco based Tom Solomon and Violet Barnes get engaged. Jewish-American Tom, currently a sous chef at a trendy restaurant, eventually wants to own his own restaurant. Christian-Brit Violet's immediate goal is to do post-doctorate academic work in psychology at UC-Berkeley. In addition to working toward their professional goals, they are planning their wedding for an undetermined date, the event which they envision to be perfect much like their marriage will be, to make up for the less than perfect proposal which did not quite come off according to Tom's plan. Trying to coordinate this perfection to occur all on the same date is challenging enough without the thoughts and goings-on of their friends and loved ones adding to the complications, including Tom's best man, Alex Eilhauer, his coworker with a frat boy mentality, and Violet's maid of honor, her constantly in tears sister Suzie Barnes. Their wedding plans take a major hit when Violet does not get the Berkeley job as she had hoped, but is offered a similar position in the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Violet and Tom decide collectively that Violet should take the job, while Tom will move there to support her until her two year contract is over, when they can move back to San Francisco to resume planning for their perfect wedding. But they find that life in Michigan together is not perfection, which changes both their outlook on life and their view of what they have to do to maintain that harmonious relationship, which may threaten them making it to the altar in its entirety.

  • In Los Angeles, the chef Tom Solomon meets the psychologist Violet Barnes in a New Year's Eve party and they immediately fall in love with each other. One year later, Tom proposes Violet to get married and they schedule their wedding date. However, the application of Violet to the University of Michigan to a master's degree is accepted and Tom declines to the offer of his boss Chef Sally to be the chef of a famous restaurant that belongs to her. His best friend and assistant Alex Eilhauer, who is married with Violet's sister Suzie Barnes-Eilhauer, accepts the position. They postpone the wedding and Tom and Violet move to Berkley for two years. While Violet befriends her Professor Winton Childs and colleagues , Tom has difficulties to find a job and work is a restaurants specialized in sandwiches. Two years later, when Tom is ready to return to Los Angeles, Violet is invited to be assistant professor in Michigan. What will happen to the couple?

  • Exactly one year after Tom Solomon meets Violet Barnes, he surprises her with a ring. By all accounts, Tom and Violet are destined for their happily ever after. However, this engaged couple just keep getting tripped up on the long walk down the aisle.

  • One year after meeting, Tom proposes to his girlfriend, Violet, but unexpected events keep tripping them up as they look to walk down the aisle together.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • One year after Tom Solomon met Violet Barnes, he surprises her with a ring. Tom's plan is simple: As they head out to a New Year's Eve party, he fakes a reason to drop by work. The staff patio at the über-trendy Birch, with its view of San Francisco's Bay Bridge, is the perfect place to pop the question. Tom is nervous as hell, but the candles are lit, the champagne is chilled and his best friend, Alex is in on the secret. But they are late for the party, so Violet fights him on the pit stop. Frustrated, he blurts out his agenda, and suddenly, they are engaged!

    By all accounts, Tom and Violet are destined for their happily ever after. As a sous chef at Birch, Tom is at the apex of modernist cooking and ripe for a promotion. Academia is Violet's life, and she's this close to a post-doctoral assignment in social psychology at UC Berkeley. There is nothing she can't handle with ease, and she'll spearhead wedding logistics. They'll be married in no time at all.

    Scoring the perfect wedding venue is a headache, but much more painful is Violet's rejection by her dream school. When the University of Michigan beckons, she's conflicted. But Tom swallows his pride and tells her to go for it. He can cook in Michigan for two years; they'll just have to postpone the wedding for a bit.

    In Ann Arbor, Violet thrives under the tutelage of brilliant faculty advisor Winton and makes quick friends with her fellow grad students Doug, Vaneetha and Ming. Left with too much time on his hands, Tom settles into Michigan life and gets a job at Zingerman's Deli, a local institution but a far cry from the fine dining he is used to. He bonds with his co-worker Tarquin and takes up hunting at the behest of the other faculty spouse, Bill. Back in San Francisco, Alex gets the restaurant promotion that should have been Tom's and marries Violet's quirky sister, Suzie. They quickly have two kids while Tom and Violet still don't have a wedding date. Life seems to be working out so easily for everyone else. Two people who once dreamed of the perfect day just want to get it over with. But even that seems beyond them, as comical problems torpedo every save the date. Maybe its not meant to be. Maybe they're not meant to be. Now, through the humorous trials of discovering who they will become as a couple, Tom and Violet will learn if they have what it takes to survive their five-year engagement.

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