Love Wedding Repeat (2020)
Director: Dean Craig
Screenwriter: Dean Craig
Starring: Sam Claflin, Olivia Munn, Eleanor Tomlinson, Joel Fry, Tim Key, Aisling Bea, Jack Farthing, Allan Mustafa, Freida Pinto
Based on Plan de Table by Francis Nief and Christelle Raynal, Love Wedding Repeat falls into the trap of being what it is… a pointless Anglo/American remake of a film, not to mention a trope-heavy romantic comedy.
An unnecessary remake of a European film, much like the Force Majeure remake Downhill, something is clearly missing in Love Wedding Repeat, and it might be that its idea of characterisation is to simply present attractive people as being attractive in different ways, without much under the surface. In fact, the sparsity of conflict and comedy in the screenplay leave the film bare, with any kind of ideological stance seemingly lost to incompetence – this may be a rip off, but it’s not a very effective one.
In thinking that by presenting good looking people in nice clothes the audience will like them, Love Wedding Repeat ensures that there’s little to no reason to connect to anyone in the film – which is a major issue when the narrative is reliant upon the gimmick of repeating events with slightly different results, and as such we have to visit and revisit each character numerous times from different perspectives. Even the very simple act of informing us of the relationships between characters seems to be lost on the filmmakers who do little to nothing to ensure that most characters are present for no other reason than to be featured on a graphic that Netflix can use in an attempt to sell 2 hours of your time.
The crux of the narrative is the story of protagonist Jack (Claflin) who missed his chance with the beautiful, and importantly American, Dina (Munn) in the years leading up to the film’s fateful wedding. Jack, in no uncertain terms, tells us that he felt an amazing connection to Dina, but we’ll just have to trust him on that one as their interactions are devoid of chemistry and produce precisely zero fireworks – perhaps the biggest faux pas of any rom-com.
Dina’s very presence at the wedding is one that is noted to be happening by chance, and herein lies the film’s major issue with logic – nothing makes sense. We aren’t privy as to why certain characters are given major roles at the wedding (such as a male maid of honour (Fry) inserted for no reason other than for the screenwriter to make a distasteful joke about him wanting to be a “man of honour” instead), nor why the bride’s group of invitees are there at all; Dina mostly. Who is she? It doesn’t matter. These are characters to look at, broad outlines of people that you’re going to have to assert your own assumptions on to make work, because the writing sure does nothing to that effect.
The cast, which is admittedly stellar, is woefully underused. Key and Bea are genuinely funny comedians who are transformed into bland and pathetic shells of people in this film, while the experienced leading duo of Munn and Claflin are simply boring. Eleanor Tomlinson is perhaps the only cast member to come out of this film with any credit, not because everyone else isn’t trying, but because her character seems to be the one the screenwriter-director cared most for – the film’s limited insights into her backstory informing the overall narrative more than the entire existence of most of the supporting cast.
Perhaps the major issue with Love Wedding Repeat does, however, lie in the way its poor attempts at comedy come across as distasteful at best and homophobic at worst. Why are these characters, clearly young and attractive people inserted into the film to attract fellow young and attractive people, so averse to the cultural difference of the Italian men kissing them on the face? Why is Munn’s once-kidnapped war reporter freaked out and judgmental over seeing her prospective romantic interest with another man’s fingers in his mouth? As with much of the film, it makes little sense, and it paints a less than ideal picture of the filmmakers behind it, as the story in of itself was already built around the tension caused by a spiked drink ending up in the wrong hands – not very timely material, it must be acknowledged.
Overall, the film’s idea of applying the butterfly effect to an ensemble of characters attending a wedding was very good, it was just poorly executed and done in poor taste. At its base, the film was one that could have been sold as a Richard Curtis movie, and there are clear signs that screenwriter-director Dean Craig did attempt to mimic some of Curtis’ rom-com magic, but while the beautiful setting and attractive actors gave the initial impression of a Four Weddings and a Funeral or About Time, the reality was much worse.
Love Wedding Repeat isn’t an entire waste of time despite this overwhelmingly negative review – it may even offer some of you a moment of escapism in which you may be able to switch your brains off during a tumultuous time – but as an artistic piece it is severely lacking; a Richard Curtis wannabe rom-com with no Curtis, no rom and no com.