Love at the Villa (2022)
love at the villa2022.
Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson.
With Kat Graham, Tom Hopper, Laura Hopper, Raymond Ablack, Hélène Cardona and Peter Arpesella.
After a breakup, a young woman sets off on a trip to romantic Verona, Italy, only to find the villa she’s booked was double-booked and she’ll have to share her vacation with a cynical Brit.
The romantic environment of Verona, Italy, becomes the playground of an affair of enemies to lovers in love at the villa (coming from writer and director Mark Steven Johnson, a name that may mean nothing to you but who is responsible for the sadly poor cinematic adaptation of daredevil). And pretty much the only upside here is that the movie was shot on location, which makes the hopelessly romantic cheesiness of it all somewhat tolerable.
If you’re going to use every genre cliche in the playbook, you might as well do it where William Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet was set up, complete with statues of Juliet and a villa with a perfect view of the place Romeo called her to in the night.
It’s a way of saying that if the characters were moderately likable, love at the villa would manage to sweep viewers into something so shamelessly romantic. However, when one of your protagonists insists that they “never make a mistake”, it doesn’t exactly incite good faith for the remaining 90 minutes of this bloated enterprise (there are a few subplots which could be greatly reduced here).
Kat Graham’s Julie (yes, that’s how the stuff is on her nose) is an elementary school teacher ready to embark on her dream destination vacation with her longtime boyfriend, Brandon (Raymond Ablack) . However, during a fancy dinner with Julie who is going over a strict itinerary for the trip (one of the only funny jokes is that she allocated a percentage of the pie chart to spontaneity), Brandon confesses that he doesn’t don’t think the relationship is working. It’s also hard to blame her for feeling that way, given Julie’s self-centered attitude that persists throughout the film (at least until the script decides it’s time for her to be more). rational and level-headed without much character arc).
All in all, this is one of the significant issues with love at the villa (a flawed movie that’s definitely not “great”); he cannot decide what he wants to be. Once Julie arrives alone in Verona (with the help of the world’s craziest Uber driver for an embarrassing comedy), she finds that her room has been double-booked. Inside is a shirtless Charlie (Tom Hopper), a wine consultant on a business trip, who chooses to stay in this room every year despite not believing in love. It’s obvious that Charlie hides his soft side and is a romantic at heart, which is a good logical starting point for the character given the setting.
Julie and Charlie immediately come across as self-absorbed, arguing over who gets the room for the week. This instigates a war between them that is always cruel on both sides rather than harmless shenanigans that allow viewers to actually like one of these characters. She exploits her allergies to cats; he donates his missing luggage to charity and invades his diary.
These are just a few examples, but none of it sounds funny or convincing that these people weren’t the problems in their respective relationships or didn’t deserve love. As such, by the time these two find common ground and realize they love each other, the film has already dug its grave. Eventually, more characters are introduced (somehow even grittier), we move through unnecessary subplots, and the story comes to its predictable but fitting conclusion.
Hopefully everyone involved in creating love at the villa had a great holiday because functioning as a tourist attraction for Verona is the only level the movie works on.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]