Love in the Villa, the 114-minute film, is generic and forgettable
omantic comedies can be a delightful watch if made right. Innumerable classic rom-coms are fondly remembered long after their first viewing. It is a genre that can make one’s heart race, provide pure entertainment and allow one to escape into a world where things fall into place seamlessly, beautifully. However, these days good rom-coms are few and far between. The recent Netflix release fails to meet the viewer’s expectations just like many before it.
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the recently released Love in the Villa is a story we have seen repeated too often. A screenplay riddled with several rom-com tropes and clichés does not manage to engage the viewers. However, performances by Kat Graham of The Vampire Diaries and Tom Hopper of The Umbrella Academy add some spark to the otherwise flat, rather predictable storyline.
Love in the Villa has all the elements of a classical romantic comedy – a man and woman meet; their mutual hatred for each other masks their evident chemistry but as the story progresses, they manage to meet midway and have a heart-to-heart, finally surmounting all challenges and uniting. The time-tested formula, done with little heart, has led to the downfall of Johnson’s film.
It is obvious from the setting that the makers hoped to capitalise on the audience’s love for romance and exotic locations without putting in the necessary effort. The lead couple meet in Verona, a picturesque town, the very setting of Romeo and Juliet – the very definition of star-crossed lovers.
Love in the Villa follows the story of elementary school teacher Julie (Kat Graham), an overachiever and a perfectionist, a Romeo and Juliet-obsessed hopeless romantic. When her boyfriend of four years ditches her before their trip of a lifetime, she heads out solo.
The story allures you with a whiff of romance and comedy but falls flat in most places. It becomes dull quickly, lacking in narrative and character development.
The lovely Julie’s dream of a beautiful getaway to recharge herself is thwarted when she encounters a series of misfortunes – a delayed flight, turbulence, screaming babies, lost luggage and a reckless cab driver. The worst happens when she discovers that her private villa has been accidentally double-booked by a tall, none other than the fit yet obnoxious wine importer, Charlie, played by Tom Hopper. Thus begins a somewhat hilarious but mostly ridiculous war over the villa, where both try to oust each other.
The real problem with the film is that its script does not define characters outside of their relationships and fails to provide individuality to each protagonist. Julie and her experiences are centred either around her relationship with Brandon or her villa war with Charlie. As a character that spent a lot of time planning the perfect vacation to Verona, the viewers do not get to see her relish the experience of travelling and checking items off the list. Perhaps what the narrative truly needed was a woman’s outlook.
Despite the many problems, there are some positives that make Love in the Villa watchable (in case you are bored and have nothing else to watch). Kat Graham is believable as the heartbroken young woman wanting to make the most of a nightmarish situation in one of the world’s most romantic places. Though the script does not do justice to her character development, it gives Graham room to perform gracefully. Graham and Hopper’s chemistry is definitely exciting and easy to consume, even when their characters have the worst quibbles.
Love in the Villa, the 114-minute film, is generic and forgettable. The story allures you with a whiff of romance and comedy but falls flat in most places. It becomes dull quickly, lacking in narrative and character development. The breezy Italian getaway, a pretty love corner and the touristy landscape serve as nothing but a marketing flyer for Verona and its breathtaking loveliness.
Too long and too cliché, Love in the Villa is nothing memorable.
The writer is a staff member