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Review: Love Again (2023)

Love Again (2023)

Directed by: Jim Strouse

Premise: A woman (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) who lost her fiancé to a car accident starts sending texts to his cell phone not realizing the number has been reassigned to a journalist’s (Sam Heughan) work phone. He tracks her down and the two of them fall in love.

What Works: Audiences respond to certain genre movies precisely because they provide a predictable experience. The creators of Love Again understand what movie they are making and the picture will probably appeal to viewers who binge watch Hallmark movies. It has the same feel. To its credit, the picture has a likable romantic couple at its core. Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan possess a believable and agreeable romantic chemistry. The picture also has a couple of notable supporting performances by Sofia Barclay as the sister of Chopra Jonas’ character and Steve Oram as the boss of Heughan’s character. Barclay and Oram are very funny and the film’s energy picks up during their scenes.

What Doesn’t: While allowing that genre movies, in this case romances, tend to adhere to a familiar narrative structure, Love Again is really formulaic. The film is less a story than it is a series of romantic checkboxes. Even viewers who thrive on the familiarity of these sorts of movies have to admit that the filmmakers of Love Again are not really trying. The plot is a chain of clichés and there are no surprises or tension. The few innovations of the film are stupid and cringe inducing. Heughan’s character consistently acts weird and erratic. He gets mystery texts but rather than concluding that the messages are phishing or responding to the recipient, he obsesses over the content. The journalist tracks Chopra Jonas’ character and inserts himself into her life. This is supposed to be romantic and charming but his behavior comes across a bit creepy. Love Again is shot in a flat and uninteresting style and a lot of the film’s key dramatic moments are clumsily staged, although none more so than the opening in which the fiancé of Chopra Jonas’ character is killed in a car accident. There is no sense of trauma or shock at the loss. For some reason Love Again includes Celine Dion playing herself. Dion is not bad but she’s here as a gimmick. Heughan’s character is assigned to profile Dion and a lot of is made of her love songs (none of which she wrote) as though they are some great poetry about the meaning of love. It’s unclear if the filmmakers are being tongue in cheek or serious about this. Ultimately little comes of the Celine Dion subplot. It could be cut from the movie without changing anything.

Disc extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, and previews.

Bottom Line: Love Again is a dull and frequently cringe inducing romance. The canned plot mechanics are forced and the filmmaker is clumsy and inartful.

Episode: #964 (September 10, 2023)