Movie Rated: 16+
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Rom-Com
What is The Story About:
When it comes to original movies, especially those within the rom-com genre, Netflix has gone a strange but not at all surprising route. It is most similar to what the Hallmark channel does for television viewers. Every year, the channel’s scheduled programming is centred around the seasons and popular Western festivals, and around March/April, we’d get a host of spring-based love stories (of course, the Christmas movies are most popular). But whatever time of the year it is, all these movies have pretty much the same plot - a boy and a girl meet, have insane chemistry, usually, a mistaken identity or a professional conflict arises, but all is resolved at the end. I don’t want to take away from the occasionally enjoyable original film by Netflix (like To All The Boys… or Always Be My Maybe), but Rich in Love (AKA Ricos de Amor) doesn’t even try hard to go beyond those cliches. Even its title is telling enough - it's about a 'rich' guy 'in love.' Wow.
The rich bad boy Teto (Danilo Mesquita) has it all. He is the heir to the ‘Trancoso Tomatoes’ fortune. As the film opens, he wakes up next to a girl whose name he doesn’t remember, and within minutes we are introduced to this most sought-after bachelor’s life, where he is irresistible to almost every woman (including the local police). Teto meets with beautiful and spunky medical student Paula (Giovanna Lancellotti) on the same night as his father cuts him off till he learns some responsibility. What follows is a romantic comedy where the comedy comes from Teto exchanging lives with his friend Igor to make it look like he comes from more humble beginnings, and the romance is his and Paula’s whirlwind romance. There’s also an important subplot of Teto learning to become an independent and responsible individual thanks to a female worker in his father’s company, Monique. Eventually, the truth is revealed and all the characters get a happy ending.
The best rom-coms are those where the writer(s) have given equal footing to the romance as well as the comedy… where those series of cliched misfortunes are driven by the love story but funny on their own as well. If I have to give credit to Rich in Love, I’d give it some points for trying to add several plot-based elements to its main boy meets girl story, giving it some punch of an odd twist here and there, and many small situational jokes. Not all of these elements always reach their expected fruition though as most of these jokes are too simple for their audience. But where the film falters the most is that the romance which drives the story has little basis. Cynicism aside, I am all for ‘love at first sight’ but Rich in Love does next to nothing to develop the initial meet-cute and attraction between Teto and Paula. Yes, they are both young and attractive and have a certain chemistry, but what after that? Initially, the film gives you a feeling that both will participate in each other’s lives and help them better themselves as people and as working professionals but that is forgotten later.
It would have been commendable if Teto’s arc (the one where he goes from a spoiled entitled brat to a humble and hard-working everyman) showed a bit more struggle as well. Yes, he has to live the poor life and sees the tribulations that Monique has to go through to make it as an executive, but barring one scene, this isn’t explored further either. He spends most of his time in unnecessary gags or with Paula and everything wraps up rather conveniently at the end (Teto’s business venture is miraculously successful a year later with no prologue). No conflict at all, really.
In the meantime, however, Igor finds love as well. And as Paula and Teto go around Rio, and Igor romances Alana (another worker at Trancoso Tomatoes), we get a lot of beautiful scenes of beautiful people generally frolicking in a picturesque location, sometimes making out steamily, and generally adding a lot of sensuality to the flat proceedings.
If the USP of the film is chemistry, then it’s not a bad one to ride on. Daniello and Giovanna do look good together and are mildly successful in keeping your attention in their scenes together, even if not individually otherwise. It is unfortunate that they have to go through a very frivolous script complete with silly, cringy and superficial dialogue. The other cast members in the film face the same issue, even while they all look great!
If nothing else, one of the film’s initial scenes is Mr Trancoso giving a tour of his tomato farm to investors. And when he opens the door to one of the rooms on the property, we get some steaming close up shots of a couple making love inside a tomato pulp fountain. The cutesy scenes of the couples in the initial bits of the movie make for some intensity later. And perhaps that, would appeal to the audience.
The convenience of the plot and too many loopholes, mostly. The entertainment factor of Rich in Love is low because the story and setting have so much potential for sass and sexiness from its initial scenes. If only the writers had spent a little more time developing the characters with conviction.
Music and Other Departments:
Rich in Love is lovely to look at. The film is set in two places, a small coastal town in Brazil where we see a lot of lush reds and greens thanks to tomatoes being so important. Paula and Teto meet at a tomato festival, walk through a beautiful field and go horseback riding. Cut to Rio where the story moves forward which has sandy beaches and a thriving nightlife. Due to Teto pretending to be poor, we get to delve briefly into the socio-economic culture of that part of the country as well.
The soundtrack of the film is mostly made up of new-age English pop songs, which would appeal to a teen demographic.
Did I Enjoy It?
In parts. I didn’t fast-forward anything, and it’s not like I could do other stuff because I’d miss the subtitles. But I had the urge to get other stuff in the middle. There are only a few scenes which hold your attention.
Do I Recommend It?
If you are looking for something really light, and I mean really light, then maybe you can give it a shot. Don’t expect to fall in love or anything.