Love Wedding Repeat (Dean Craig, 2020) – Global Acquisition – Romantic Comedy
Three years after fate deprived of him of the chance to confess his feelings to Dina (Olivia Munn), Jack (Sam Claflin) finds himself with another chance to connect with her at his sister’s wedding in Rome. If he is to make the most of this opportunity, however, he will have to overcome a veritable cavalcade of complications, including a bizarre request from his sister that he drug an ex-boyfriend who has crashed the wedding with a dark secret. Other problems facing Jack include being seated with his ex-girlfriend Amanda (Freida Pinto), supporting his aspiring actor friend Bryan (Joel Fry) and keeping Dina out of the clutches of other would-be suitors such as the boorish Sidney (Tim Key). Adding even more complication to the mix is a twist of fate that sees the entire wedding magically play out a second time, giving Jack yet another chance to get things right with Dina.
Like many who came of age in the 1990s, I have fond memories of the Richard Curtis/Working Title Transatlantic British romcoms, a cycle that ran from Four Weddings and a Funeral up to, but NOT including Love, Actually in the early 2000s, including genuine classics like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill. If you also harbor nostalgic feelings for this golden era of British romcoms, do yourself a favor and avoid Love Wedding Repeat, which will only make you miss the old films even more.
LWR is a film that tries to use a time loop gimmick to add a high concept spin an otherwise shabbily written and acted pale imitation of the classics. Making the film even more aggravating is the fact that even the gimmicky time loop premise is lifted from a far superior 1990s British romcom, that being Sliding Doors; thus even the ostensible stab at originality is a poor quality retread.
To understand what exactly is so bad about LWR, we can go back to its predecessors. These films crackled with wit and charm, but have never really been equaled despite a number of lame sequels (I’m looking at you, the Bridget Jones “franchise”) and numerous attempts to copy the formula, eminently forgettable films such as Man Up or I Give it a Year, the latter of which was at least funny in parts. Looking back, what made the originals great was not so much the wit of Richard Curtis – which was inconsistent – but instead the performances of key stars, especially Hugh Grant who managed to combine great comic timing with genuine movie star good looks and charisma. Sam Claflin, the star of LWR has none of these qualities and so he seems woefully out of place in this film, never landing a joke, warming our hearts or making anyone dream of being swept off their feet by him.
The supporting cast is equally underwhelming. Just as Claflin cannot draw a single laugh out of being accidentally drugged with a powerful sedative, neither can co-star Joel Fry when it is his turn. This was a scenario that should have been ripe for physical, slapstick comedy, but the two of them simply yawn, yawn again and fall asleep, effectively recreating what their audience was doing throughout their respective scenes. Another set of running “jokes” revolve around penis envy, a clichéd topic that is almost never funny in real life or in movies.
And so goes the comedy dimension of the film, which is absent throughout, barring the odd joke (Tim Key isn’t bad as the boring and weird Sidney, but his time on screen is limited). So what about the romance part of the “romcom” equation? Again this is MIA. Olivia Munn has striking looks but has little screen presence here and generates no chemistry at all with Claflin and by the end I personally didn’t care whether they got together or not. Similarly the engaged couple were barely characters, with the groom Roberto (Tiziano Caputo) having only a handful of lines and no palpable feelings towards his fiancée Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson). Tomlinson for her part expends a lot of energy trying to bring zaniness to the film, but it’s all for naught her storyline is neither funny nor do we have any emotional investment in her wedding going right.
Besides the considerable problems of not having any effective romance or comedy and feeling derivative and gimmicky, the film adds insult to injury by being poorly made as well. There are a number of basic continuity errors to be found throughout the film that are distracting and frankly embarrassing (a particularly annoying one has Munn’s character move in and out of bright sunlight in her reaction and over the shoulder shots). And then there is the lazy, superfluous voice-over and…well, you get my point. If you’re feeling like watching a great British romcom, keep scrolling on Netflix until you find one of the old ones.
Freida Pinto will also appear in the upcoming Netflix original film Hillbilly Elegy.
Sam Claflin also features in season 5 of Peaky Blinders, which is a fixture of Netflix “original” programming in many territories, including the US.
Tim Key also appears in two episodes in season 2 of The End of the F&%ing World, which was distributed as a Netflix original in much of the world.
Almost all of the film’s action takes place in the same palatial Roman villa.
The film received some sort of subvention from the regional government of Lazio, the Italian state surrounding Rome.