The most clever thing about Falling Inn Love is its title, and even on that front I’m giving it too much credit. The point is, these sort of romantic comedies are not in the ballpark of movies like When Harry Met Sally or even the more modern rom-com Plus One (if you haven’t watched this yet I urge you to please do so). They are simple and formulaic, and we watch them because we expect something that’s paint by numbers.
Falling Inn Love moves through the regular beats of the romantic comedy, where the female protagonist Gabriela (Christina Milian) starts out completely beaten down in her career as well as love life. Thus, it is the perfect time to do something on a whim, like enter a ‘Win an Inn’ contest and actually win the inn. What does she have to lose? So she traipses all the way to New Zealand, only to discover that the inn is in a state of disrepair. Oh no, what’s a woman to do? Enter the male love interest, who conveniently is a contractor, and you have a love story.
I have to give Millian props for being cute and lovely, and I could see why any man would fall for her. The problem is, she cannot muster up any sizzling chemistry with co-star Adam Demos, who plays the hunky contractor Jake. Sure, the man is easy on the eyes, and all that contractor work has done miraculous things for his physique, but he barely emotes. Perhaps he feels that all he has to do is be good looking. However, the key to a rom-com being greater than the sum of its parts is when the two actors have charisma and chemistry together.
Millian and Demos look good together, and that’s about it. And I have no idea why, but somehow, a decision was made to shoot their kissing scenes from behind them, which means we barely see the kiss, at most we just see their jaws moving. It is so unsettling for me to see a kiss framed like that. Moreover, there is a persistent mishandling of the tension present when there’s a kiss. There should be build-up, anticipation, not multiple interruptions by a goat. Yes there is a goat, because they are in the New Zealand countryside, therefore the math makes sense.
The one thing I did like about the movie was the choice to have it set in New Zealand for the majority of the film. It offers a nice contrast to the usual European getaways. The community is a close-knit one, and everybody knows everyone else’s business, which is typical of small communities, I suppose. They are all also overly nice — I have never been to New Zealand, so I have no basis for comparison, but the way they all troop over to lend her a helping hand when she merely has the common cold is a bit much. All I do is tell my friends to rest when they’re sick.
Needless to say, the minor characters are not very well-developed, they are just there to help make Gabriela’s life easier. In fact, Gabriela’s life becomes so void of obstacles, all they could muster for us in the way of an antagonist is an uptight woman who owns the other inn in town. The most evil thing she does is use Gabriela’s phone to text her ex-beau and ask him to come to New Zealand to get her back. Call the authorities, she must be stopped. I would have expected some inn sabotage, but nope, nada. At least Gabriela’s ex-boyfriend doesn’t get the villain edit, and leaves the narrative as the nice guy who just couldn’t commit to her. However, the relationship remains shallow and underdeveloped. For a couple who spent two years together, there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason as to why.
The movie tries to go down the whole Jane Austen path, with letter writing becoming a symbolic thing for the couple. The problem is (I have lost count as to how many times I have said that), the letters they find in the wall hardly inspire us to feel great passion. The two actors don’t really add anything compelling to their narration of these letters, so it is a symbol that feels a little empty. It is almost cringeworthy to hear Gabriela actually read aloud the letter he writes to her, while he is standing there. Who does that?
Also, there is no leap of faith from Jake. You can’t help but notice that it is Gabriela who makes the decision to stay and run the inn. He doesn’t say anything until she has laid her cards all on the table. She has to uproot her entire life, and instead of being supportive about whatever decision she makes, especially since she never made any promises, he sulks and pouts.
To sum up, what does this movie have? Decent humour involving a goat (though this gets overplayed), good looking leads, eco-friendly inns and a community that gives away lots of free stuff. If you want a movie to watch while you fold your laundry, then Falling Inn Love is for you. Perfect for multitasking, and easy to forget about once you are done.
Falling Inn Love has its charming moments, mainly in lead actress Christina Millian and Gilbert the goat. However, it is mostly formulaic and forgettable, with the leads failing to foster any burning chemistry with each other.
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