The truth is that had this been French (think Julie Delpy perhaps or the late Eric Rohmer) critics wouldn't have had a problem with it. They probably wouldn't have bothered to go in the first place, but those few with a modicum of intellectual curiosity who did venture out would have found this a charming meditation on the vagaries of l'amour. But it is a British movie and therefore altogether much more ambitious (how many British movies can you name that are investigations of an abstract noun?). It is not a comedy, it is not a drama, it is not even a piece of social observation. It is, in other words, rather foreign to English sensibilities. We must pity the critics. They understand Hollywood, they understand British social comedy, they assume that films in a foreign language are beyond the public they so often condescend to, but they don't get My Last Five Girlfriends.
Of course, it should have retained the title of the book it is adapted from, Alain de Botton's 'Essays in Love' ('essays' as in 'experiments'). That would have signalled the abstract, meditative nature of the piece. The marketing has served the film very poorly: this is an art house independent, a movie for grown-ups. Couples are not going to roll out of the cinemas wiping the tears from their eyes or pledging undying love to one another, or reminding each other of "that great bit where".
This is a low budget film which has attempted high budget effects, but the result is curiously refreshing. Artifice is to the fore - it underlines the refusal to deal in the usual cliches. All sorts of different film techniques are used and these serve to suggest all the very different ways in which the narrative of a love affair can be told or understood. The central character is not particularly charming or attractive; perhaps he is occasionally wry, but we are not invited to empathise.
This is an anti-sentimental film from which you depart thinking rather than swooning.