It is an era when formulaic but charming comedies-of-errors meet unlikely romance movies are, essentially, dead. Even today, we have to rely on Richard Curtis’ handy filmography to revisit those lovable men and women (usually played by Hugh Grant) who seem to be finding it so difficult to find their happy ending. Netflix’s devastatingly subpar attempt to tap into the genre is Love Wedding Repeat, with a Four Weddings and a Funeral hangover, if all the weddings were just alternate realities of one.
Rome and the beauty of the by-lanes in Italy have their own charm at this point of time. It’s a gloriously beautiful setting for a wedding which is just a disaster from the beginning. Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) is to marry her Italian boyfriend in a luxurious Roman villa. The opening credits give us a plush aerial look at this city of romance as ‘Delilah’ plays in the background. Her brother Jack (Sam Claflin) is the stammering and neurotic hero of our story, who is doing his level best that everything goes as planned. Except ‘maid of honour’ Bryan (Joel Fry) may have been slipped a sedative. Hayley’s former lover Marc may have shown up unannounced and high on drugs. Jack’s ex-girlfriend Amanda (Frieda Pinto) and her toxic boyfriend Chaz end up on the same table. As does Dina (Olivia Munn), with whom Jack had a near-miss romance three years ago. And Sidney, a dull and annoying guest who gets no introduction except he wears a kilt so maybe he is funny. Spoiler alert: None of this is funny, in spite of getting a set-up which may have been.
A remake of 2012 French film ‘Plan de Table’ (and that film doesn’t gather a lot of merit if online reviews are anything to go by), Love Wedding Repeat is a ‘what if’ movie where the same wedding day is played out several times to see the probabilities of what could go wrong if that’s what the cosmos has already decided - basically a ‘Sliding Doors’ meets ‘Table 19’ type scenario where multiple permutation-combinations would eventually lead us to one where everything goes smoothly. Hence, the ‘repeat’ in the film’s title. Fair enough. Except that we don’t get all those, or even a few of those, scenarios. Just two. One where everything is terrible and one where it’s all fine.
To really care about characters fixing their mistakes, one has to care enough about them. Unfortunately, not a single wedding guest (all of whom are cardboard cut-outs from previous rom-coms) are given an engaging enough subplot for us to care if things go as planned. Gags and situations are written for the sake of the creation of drama when there is none. A lot of what people seemed to be shitting their pants over is what can be solved by being easily communicated using ‘words.’ And no, this isn’t the sort of rant that warrants - ‘but it’s a movie.’ Seriously, scenes, where a character could just be asked to shut up, have them droning on for several minutes. When a drowsy guest possibly ruins the weddings, no one gets up to yank him out of the premises. All for the sake of supposedly ‘quirky’ humour which gets exhausting quickly.
Sam Claflin (Love, Rosie and Me Before You) is the dashing Englishman who fancies the cool American girl Olivia Munn. They’re both nice enough to look at but are no Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell. After a point, their situation becomes as forced and unrealistic as the rest of the script. Joel Fry is given one ‘life lesson’ monologue that comes a little too late. Freida Pinto’s bitchy scorniness gets annoying and tiring. And bride Eleanor Tomlinson has been written as such an unsympathetic and unlikeable character that we hope that her wedding had gone up in flames in reality.
Love Wedding Repeat has been written and directed by Dean Craig. Craig, who is a first-time director is actually the screenwriter for 2007 black comedy ‘Death at the Funeral,’ a rather funny look at a one-day scenario with an ensemble. Credit where due, he has the ability to find small moments in more sombre occasions that could exude some chuckles here and there. Most of the film’s better moments are actually in its end credits with short quips or slapstick comedy. None of this is translated into the whole film, though. The only highlight I could find is that Olivia Munn seems luminescent for most of the runtime in a flowy green dress under the afternoon Italian sun.
For a formulaic comedy, this one is stale and tedious, and that’s saying something. I’m not sure if it is intended to feel so reminiscent of every ‘90s film or TV show which ever required a wedding setting. As a subtle throwback, it misses the mark by being so obviously derivative. For it to be taken seriously, there’s little to hold on to in terms of connection or wit.
Music and Other Departments
Apart from a brief look at the beauty of Rome in the beginning, Love Wedding Repeat does little to exploit its beautiful on-location set with us being confined inside the ballroom of a villa for most of the film. It is a shame that it has such forgettable cinematography, lighting work and score. A few waltzes and orchestra performances of classical concertos are incorporated as the playlist for the wedding, which may seem familiar. Other than that, this is the first time that a film set in Italy doesn’t feel like a painting.
Did I Enjoy It?
No. I was really looking forward to watching this movie thanks to its good-looking leads. Not a single frame is enjoyable/memorable.
Do I Recommend It?
No. You may have small pangs to visit Italy, which is a bad idea right now anyway. If you are looking for a light-hearted ensemble comedy or a feel-good romp, pick a Richard Curtis movie and enjoy it with a hot cup of cocoa. Or try the Hulu miniseries based on Four Weddings and a Funeral and thank me later.
Rating: 1/5 Stars