love in the village2022.
Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson.
Starring Kat Graham, Tom Hopper, Laura Hopper, Raymond Ablack, Hélène Cardona and Peter Arpesella.
After a breakup, a young woman takes a trip to romantic Verona, Italy, only to discover that the villa she booked is double booked and she’ll have to share her vacation with a cynical British man.
The romantic setting of Verona, Italy becomes a playground for an enemies-to-lovers affair in love in the village (coming from writer/director Mark Steven Johnson, a name that may not ring a bell but is responsible for the infamously bad movie adaptation of Reckless). And about the only plus here is that the movie was shot on location, which makes the hopelessly romantic cheesiness of it all somewhat tolerable.
If you’re going to use all the genre clichés in the playbook, you might as well do it where William Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet it was decorated, complete with statues of Juliet and a villa with a perfect view of the place where Romeo called her in the night.
That’s a way of saying that if the characters were moderately likeable, love in the village would manage to ensnare viewers in something so blatantly and blatantly romantic. However, when one of his leads insists he “never makes a mistake,” he doesn’t exactly instill bona fides for the remaining 90 minutes of this bloated effort (there are some subplots that could be drastically cut here).
Kat Graham’s Julie (yes, that’s the stuff on the nose) is an elementary school teacher poised to embark on her dream vacation destination with her longtime boyfriend, Brandon (Raymond Ablack). However, over a fancy dinner with Julie going over a strict itinerary for the trip (one of the only funny jokes is that she’s assigned a percentage of the pie chart to spontaneity), Brandon confesses that he doesn’t think the relationship is working. It’s also hard to blame him for feeling that way, given Julie’s self-centered attitude that persists throughout the movie (at least until the script decides it’s time for her to be more rational and level-headed without much of a character arc).
In general, that’s one of the major problems with love in the village (a flawed movie that is definitely not “spectacular”); you can’t decide what you want to be. Once Julie arrives alone in Verona (with the help of the world’s craziest Uber driver doing an embarrassing comedy), she discovers that her room has been booked twice. Inside is Charlie (Tom Hopper), a shirtless wine consultant on business who chooses to stay in that room every year despite not believing in love. It’s evident that Charlie hides the sweet side of him and is a romantic at heart, which is a good logical starting point for the character considering the setting.
Julie and Charlie immediately come across as self-absorbed, fighting over who gets the room for the week. This incites a war between them that is consistently vicious on both sides instead of harmless antics that allow viewers to really like one of these characters. She exploits her allergies to cats; he has his lost luggage donated to charity and invades her diary.
Those are just a few examples, but none of this seems funny or convincing that these people weren’t the problems in their respective relationships or deserving of love. As such, by the time these two find common ground and realize they like each other, the film has already dug their grave. Eventually, a few more (somehow even more irritating) characters are introduced, we push through unnecessary subplots, and the story reaches its predictable but fitting conclusion.
Hopefully everyone involved in making love in the village I had a good vacation because functioning as a tourist attraction for Verona is the only level the film works on.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]