It’s by no means an awesome signal when the funniest a part of your romantic comedy includes the feminine lead’s flawless boyfriend being killed by a drunk driver within the opening scene (image Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ smiling face locked in a wide-eyed, ultra-slow-motion close-up as Keegan DeWitt’s lush and bouncy rating is instantly changed by the Wilhelm scream of screeching tires), however in equity to James C. Strouse’s absurd “Love Once more,” this unclassifiable whatsit isn’t a conventional rom-com a lot as a grief drama with a extreme id dysfunction.
Primarily based on a German movie known as “SMS für Dich” — which sadly doesn’t imply what it seems like — Strouse’s moribund but virtually intoxicatingly unusual new film is kind of precisely what you’ll count on to occur if the man behind depressive indies like “Lonesome Jim” and “Grace Is Gone” determined to make a poppy date flick that adhered to the rhythms and logic of a Lindsay Lohan automobile from 2006.
Sure, a lot of the giggle traces in “Love Once more” are stale sufficient that even simply listening to them form of hurts your enamel, however for all of its blatant ridiculousness, this film seldom tries to be humorous. Don’t be fooled by the snarky homosexual greatest pal, the advice-giving sister, or the freak lightning storm that magically connects Chopra Jonas’ character to the world’s most chiseled music critic (Sam Heughan) by means of the paranormal powers of their Sony cell phones: “Love Once more” may be possessed by the spirit of a rom-com, but it surely’s as lethal severe as a Celine Dion energy ballad.
Celine Dion… what a very random level of comparability, proper? WRONG! The Quebecois singer — who appears to be one thing of a magnet for batshit films that hinge on her life story, makes use of this as soon as as an opportunity to mirror on her personal misplaced love — proves essential to this mixed-up story about two strangers educating one another how their hearts may go on.
Rob Burns (Heughan) is not any stranger to the ability of affection, particularly its energy to crush you into 1,000,000 tiny items. His work has been struggling as of late, and whereas that appears to be defined by the truth that he’s clearly by no means listened to a single piece of music in his total life (the character’s total character is that he watches Knicks video games alone on his sofa with a basketball in his lap), his editor appears to consider that it’s as a result of Rob was just lately dumped only a week earlier than his wedding ceremony.
Rob’s fortunate that he seems like a Scottish Tom Brady, and luckier nonetheless that he’s been assigned to write down about Dion’s first American tour in 10 years. Not solely is Rob so unhealthy at his job that the singer (enjoying herself) take a private curiosity in his incompetence, however — within the aftermath of some purple lightning above Manhattan — the work cellphone he’s given to document his interview begins receiving the voluminous textual content messages that youngsters’s creator Mira Ray (Chopra Jonas) has been sending to her lifeless accomplice as a therapeutic train.
It’s been two years for the reason that tragedy, and Mira is principally nonetheless caught within the “disguise your self away from the world” stage of grief. She’s dwelling in her mother and father’ home, the caterpillar she’s well-known for drawing looks like it’s by no means going to show right into a butterfly, and her punchy youthful sister Suzy (an effervescent Sofia Barclay) is so determined to get Mira some Dich that she even creates a Bumble profile for her. Watching Chopra Jonas and Barclay flip to the digicam and say “that’s the courting app the place the lady will get to make the primary transfer!” was sufficient to make me marvel if “Love Once more” won’t be weirdly severe for a rom-com, however reasonably weirdly romantic for a bit of sponsored content material.
Anyway, Rob clearly turns into infatuated with the rando who’s spamming his cellphone with messages about how a lot she misses his scent, and, with the assistance of his bowtied co-worker Billy (Russell Tovey), much more clearly contrives a option to cross paths along with her in actual life. That his plan includes sitting by means of a number of dozen opera performances of “Orpheus and Eurydice” within the hopes of catching sight of his thriller crush — reasonably than, say, standing outdoors the doorway of the theater and ready for her to stroll by — epitomizes the fiercely romantic however totally inane spirit of a movie that’s far too love drunk to make sense of its sobering tone.
For a narrative whose third act (form of) pivots on a random job supply from Celine Dion, “Love Once more” may hardly be extra predictable. From the second that Rob endeavors to seek out Mira, you realize that he’s going to cover the truth that he’s been getting her lifeless boyfriend’s texts, you realize that they’ll finally rekindle one another’s dormant romantic streak (cue: “It’s All Coming Again to Me Now”), just for Mira to find the reality behind their meet-cute about eight seconds after they lastly have intercourse.
To not begrudge a rom-com its conventions, however the scene the place Mira learns Rob’s secret — after which storms out of his condo with none follow-up questions! — goes a great distance in direction of exposing the disconnect between the heaviness of Strouse’s hand and the silliness of his plot. There’s one thing admirable in regards to the sterility of his course, which resists the straightforward appeal that almost all rom-coms depend upon to pave over their plot holes, however Strouse forfeits an excessive amount of of the levity that “Love Once more” wants to stay gentle on its ft.
It doesn’t assist that Chopra Jonas and Heughan have all of the spark of a rusty lighter in the midst of a rainstorm, despite the fact that Chopra Jonas eases into her pure radiance as soon as Mira begins to loosen up round Rob (an unmotivated flip that occurs within the blink of an eye fixed). Or that even Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert would battle for one thing to carry onto amidst such oppressively pressured circumstances; one downside with devoting roughly 45 minutes of a movie to aerial pictures of New York Metropolis is that it doesn’t depart numerous time for the lead actors to develop their characters any deeper than they seem on the web page.
It definitely doesn’t assist that Dion places the emphasis on the improper phrase when she tells Rob that he has “the presence of a pair of used underwear,” as if the proper man ought to boast the charisma of some freshly laundered Fruits of the Loom. However Dion’s questionable appearing abilities shouldn’t distract from the truth that her voice stays as commanding as ever, and — wouldn’t you realize it — the primary of the 5 new songs that she wrote for this film’s Sony Music soundtrack is out there to obtain now. Right here’s hoping they fire up stronger feelings than the movie that impressed them.
A Sony launch, “Love Once more” is now enjoying in theaters.
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