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Film Review: “Love Wedding Repeat” Delivers Uneven Comedy, Comedically Unevenly

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | April 10th, 2020

Film poster: “Love Wedding Repeat”

Love Wedding Repeat (Dean Craig, 2020) 2 out of 4 stars.

A (very loose) English-language adaptation of the 2012 French film Plan de table, director Dean Craig’s Love Wedding Repeat offers occasional fine comedic moments, but too often can’t rinse off the unfortunate patina of forced farce. Sam Claflin (The Nightingale) makes an appealing protagonist as Jack, brother of the bride at a fancy Roman celebration, yet even his perfectly timed manic shenanigans – often in the company of equally funny Joel Fry (Yesterday) – are not sufficient to rescue an uneven script (also by Craig). It’s enjoyable enough, but only for so long.

The premise of the piece is that Jack, three years prior, had a golden opportunity to find love life in the form of Dina (Olivia Munn, The Predator), good friend to his younger sibling Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson, Alleycats). As luck (or the lack thereof) would have it, Jack, though sweet, is somewhat lacking in the assertiveness department, and blew his chance. Somehow, in this modern age of wired interconnectedness, he has eschewed all further contact with Dina since then. But hark! What romantic possibility from yonder screenplay breaks? Dina is invited to Hayley’s wedding!

Before any of the film begins, however, our narrator – “The Oracle” (Penny Ryder) – walks us through an arch introduction to the vagaries of fate and how small alterations in the fabric of the universe lead to big changes in outcomes. She’ll return, but first Craig (making his feature debut) sets up the main event, located in a sumptuous villa. As Hayley prepares and her bridal party gathers, all seem ready for a glorious day. Until, that is, an unexpected guest arrives.

Sam Claflin and Olivia Munn in LOVE WEDDING REPEAT. Photo Credit: Netflix / Riccardo Ghilardi

From there flows the mayhem, for Hayley asks Jacks help in removing said guest. Unfortunately, this request takes the form of a powerful sedative administered to the interloper’s champagne glass, a plan sure to go awry, especially once mischievous children change the place settings. As everything spirals out of control, Jack’s hopes of finally matching with Dina appear doomed to fail once more. Until, that is, fate – or rather, The Oracle – steps in to restart the proceedings, over and over, each time with a different result. Will one of these takes result in a happy ending? Given the imperatives of romantic comedies, it seems inevitable that one might.

There are joys to be had within, but also bores. Not all repetitions are equal in delight. More importantly, the conceit of how and why the circumstances begin afresh each time, while leading to sometimes amusing redos, never transcends the triteness of a well-worn deus ex machina, no matter the playful voiceover explanation. The cast works hard – sometimes straining under the weight of the clumsy narrative scaffolding – and succeed now and then. Kudos to the attempt, for sure. A few laughs do not a winning comedy make, however. This Wedding is not quite the perfect union of form and function.

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is Associate Editor and film critic at Film Festival Today; lead film critic at Hammer to Nail, an online magazine devoted to independent cinema; the host of Dragon Digital Media’s award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed; a film commentator for the Roughly Speaking podcast with Dan Rodricks at The Baltimore Sun; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema (available wherever podcasts are found).

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