If you are a writer, having your work translated and completely misinterpreted might be on your list of worst nightmares. One may want to take legal action as soon as possible and fight to have their work properly represented. But what if the translated version of your book became wildly successful in another country?
That was the case for Henry Copper in “Book of Love,” an Amazon Original directed by Analeine Cal y Mayor that was released on Feb. 4.
Henry, played by Sam Claflin, is an unsuccessful English writer who is down on his luck when his romance novel, “The Sensible Heart,” is not as popular as he hoped it would be. Book sales are low, the reviews are terrible and Henry realizes his book is a failure.
However, not all hope is lost when his novel surprisingly goes No. 1 in Mexico. In a desperate effort to reap the benefits of book sales there, Henry’s publicist organizes a small book tour. Maria Fernanda Rodriguez, played by Verónica Echegui, is the translator of Henry’s book and guides the writer on his tour in Mexico.
Not only did Maria translate Henry’s book, but she also rewrote the entire thing. She transformed “The Sensible Heart” from being a boring and uninspired romance to a fiery, sensual, erotic novel. Henry becomes upset at first, but the success of his book in Mexico is too good to jeopardize so he chooses to go with the flow.
The film starts on a strong note but begins to decline rapidly. Many of the scenes become repetitive. Henry and Maria go to their next spot of the tour and get asked the same questions about the making of the book and are even followed by the same group of fanatics to each tour stop.
A crucial element to making a successful romantic-comedy is likable and attractive characters. Henry, being the main protagonist, falls short in both categories.
Although Claflin has starred as the charming boy who meets the attractive girl in other romance films, such as “Me Before You,” “Love, Rosie” and “Adrift,” his Henry Copper character is less than desirable. It makes sense to introduce him as a dull person at first because that connects him to his failed novel. However, there is no big transformation at any point in the film that makes him lovable.
Another thing this movie fails to do is execute a convincing and believable romance between the two main characters. Henry and Maria’s love feels painfully forced, and there is no strong chemistry that can make audiences genuinely root for them.
In the film, Maria explains the reason she rewrote the novel is because Henry did not know what love was, but she did. This may be a believable argument, to say the least, until she contradicts herself when she says she never has time to write because she works three jobs to make ends meet. So how did she find time to rewrite the book if this were the case?
This statement could be speaking to gender inequality in Mexico and how women are given fewer opportunities for success, but any importance this potentially has gets swept up in the great wave of inconsistencies.
One saving grace of the film is the setting and scenery. The vibrant colors of the carnival festivals and the greenery of the jungles in the Mexican countryside are eye-catching.
Unfortunately, this is not enough for “Book of Love” to be saved from its wasted potential. From its unimaginative romance to the dragged-out plot, you are better off choosing any other rom-com to watch for Valentine’s Day this year.