Netflix’s latest rom-com is a cheeky flight of English fancy as thin as gossamer.
At first glance, you might think Netflix’s newest romcom Love Wedding Repeat some kind of play on Groundhog Day or—based on the title—a nod to Doug Liman’s 2014 hit Edge of Tomorrow, aka Live. Die. Repeat. While there are touches of both concepts here, what Love Wedding Repeat most closely resembles is the 1998 reality-bending Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle Sliding Doors, a movie that is simultaneously about what is and what could be.
Like Sliding Doors, Love Wedding Repeat seems intent on leaving the viewer guessing as to which version of events actually took place. Chance and circumstance are the key players here, for better or worse.
A voiceover (Penny Ryder credited as “The Oracle”) opens the film against the backdrop of a violet night sky full of stars, telling us that every so often “Chance comes along and gives love a real kick in the ballsack.” This is how we’re introduced to Jack, played with affable charm by Sam Clafin.
Jack has spent a magical weekend visiting his sister in Rome, while his sister’s American friend Dina (Olivia Munn) has also been visiting. There’s obvious chemistry between the two, a twinkle of the possibility of a truly marvelous couple. They’re cut short by world-class prat Marc (Jack Farthing) and go their separate ways, the possibility of more left unfulfilled.
Fast forward two years later and they’re thrown into each other’s company again for the wedding of Jack’s sister Hayley (Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson) and her Italian beau Roberto (Tiziano Caputo). Set in a lush Italian villa and packed with an approachable cast of characters that seems to borrow heavily from the English Romcom formula.
There are touches of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill-level ensembles here, with maid-of-honor Bryan (Joel Fry) given the most to do throughout. There’s also the constantly bickering Chaz (Allan Mustafa) and Amanda (a criminally underutilized Frieda Pinto) who seems to still be pining for her ex-boyfriend Jack despite not seeming to like him—or anyone—very much.
Chance and circumstance are the key players here, for better or worse.
Then there is sad sack Sidney (Tim Key) who is such a dope he chose a wedding as the first time to wear a dress kilt, despite not being remotely Scottish, and Rebecca (Aisling Bea), who has no verbal filter but luckily possesses the comedic timing that makes the character more funny than vulgar.
There are plenty of hijinks with a coke-fueled Marc showing up to declare his love for Hayley, a mix up with sedatives (ha ha roofies are hilarious), a prominent Italian director, and Chaz’s obsession with what kind of heat Jack is packing. (Prepare to hear the word “genitals” bandied about with alarming frequency.)
None of the humor really sticks the landing, and there are some “what were you wearing” jokes that will make viewers cringe in a way I don’t think director Dean Craig intended. There are plenty of opportunities for chance and circumstance to play merry hob with the hearts of all involved, but there’s not enough real investment in the characters to make the viewers really care who ends up with who. The story with Pinto’s Amanda falls particularly flat and doesn’t really go anywhere.
Still, Love Wedding Repeat might have just enough happy charm, gorgeous Italian scenery and sophisticated English wit to draw viewers in, but even its magical twist isn’t enough to make it truly memorable.
Love Wedding Repeat is currently streaming on Netflix.