Love In The Villa transforms bottomless cliches into an amiable rom-com

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Ironically, given that her fairy tale was pieced together using Netflix’s essentially trademarked algorithm, the fair-minded maiden in “Love in the Villa” longs for an actual, passionate Italian holiday. With a dash of high jinks that make them fall head over heels, add a female heroine who is down on her luck to a man who is either from or takes place in an enchanted European environment. But the happy surprise that awaits even the most pessimistic viewers of romantic comedy from writer-director Mark Steven Johnson is that the manufactured product contains a comforting appeal to its reasonable delight.

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Julie lands in the charming, tourist-filled hallway of La Villa Romantica after a horrific journey highlighted by delays, turbulence, crying toddlers, missing bags, and a hectic ride in a Fiat. She enters her rental expecting to unwind before setting off on her solitary expedition but finds someone else there. The location has been reserved for the exact same week by ruthless wine merchant Charlie (Tom Hopper), who is in town for the annual wine festival on business. The two are forced to live together because the erratic owner of the apartment (Emilio Solfrizzi) offers them no recourse and there is no other place for them to reside. His stuffy British ideals clash with her sloppy, chaotic emotional problems, and they mix like oil and water. However, when they begin fighting for total dominance, their genuine affections for one another unexpectedly converge

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The film is given a brilliant effervescence by Johnson and his team, who previously provided another amusing rom-com for the streamer (“Love, Guaranteed”), not merely in the material’s cherry jests but also in its deft production. According to the numbers, Julie’s evil schemes to scare Charlie away—including setting him up for an allergic reaction and locking him up—are much more detrimental than his practical jokes on her (diverting her luggage to an orphanage and making her think mushrooms are horse meat). These montages have humorous connotations, but Johnson and editor Lee Haxall find a fun, lighthearted strength in them. We are transported inside the characters’ occasionally tortured psyches by canted perspectives, swirling camera movements, and finely timed audio stingers. The frantic, comical scenes and the emotional overtones of the developing romance are further elevated by cinematographer José David Montero. The artistic attraction is enhanced by voluminous lighting and the gentle, warm sunsets that make people swoon.

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While Johnson’s aesthetic skill has improved, not all of his work has the same sense of development. The third-act callbacks are expertly woven in, but there is a glaring lack of assurance when it comes to really present the characters rather than just informing the audience about them. The movie constantly exaggerates its points since it doesn’t think the viewer would comprehend Charlie’s defects from what is shown to us without being explicitly stated. When Charlie, who has been portrayed as a wealthy, unsettling workaholic, casually and all too soon realizes that his career is gone, the inevitable tension spiral between the two protagonists is slowed down.

The Holiday Calendar, “Operation Christmas Drop,” and other serviceable genre-friendly content on the streamer are helping Graham carve out a solid niche for herself. Graham embraces her character’s lovely, spitfire temperament with grace and grit, doing competent work as a leading lady. She even has the opportunity to perform some enjoyable physical comedy (the restaurant scene in which she clumsily attempts to slurp wine with a straw is a magnificent high point). The swagger, good looks, and deadpan delivery of Hopper enchant and disarm. With their chemistry and intrinsic likeability that is as appealing as it is entertaining, he and Graham create rooting interest

The balcony Julie is so enamored of was actually built later, in a deliberate attempt to draw tourists to charming Verona, as pragmatic Charlie explains at one point. The film’s brief openness to question its own blatant commercialism is a brave, fascinating move, even though it is not nearly as incisive as the happy dagger in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Romantics will undoubtedly perceive and feel that the emotive thematic resonance surrounding love and destiny comes from a true source, despite the fact that “Love in the Villa’s” building blocks are as artificial and manufactured as that balcony.

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