“Love in the Villa” brings exactly what’s expected to the screen as one of Netflix’s newest romantic comedies.
Kat Graham of “The Vampire Diaries” plays Julie Hutton, a third-grade teacher ready to set out on a highly anticipated trip to Verona, Italy with her boyfriend of four years, Brandon, played by Raymond Ablack. But when Brandon decides to voice his displeasure in the relationship right before the trip, Julie finds herself flying solo.
That is until she reaches her destination of “La Villa Romantica,” a villa located next to one of Italy’s most popular attractions, Juliet’s House (of “Romeo and Juliet”). Upon walking in, she’s greeted by a shirtless man, Charlie Fletcher, played by Tom Hopper, who’s equally surprised to see her. The two learn the villa’s host accidentally booked them to stay on the same dates.
Of the unnecessarily long two-hour runtime and drawn-out scenes that fill it, the first half of the film shows a feud between the occupants. Each one does something outrageous to get the other to hopefully vacate the villa. It’s all in vain (shocking) as the second half of the film does a complete 180 in the span of a few minutes, with Julie and Charlie calling a truce and suddenly telling each other how “flawsome” (flawed yet awesome) they are (much like this movie) over a bottle of wine.
While no one really expects Netflix’s rom-coms to be realistic, “Love in the Villa” really runs with the leeway it’s given.
Graham and Hopper, and even the few side characters in this movie, work wonders with the script they’re given by creating quirky and, dare I say, funny characters you’d like to see more of. But Charlie and Julie seem far too comfortable with one another as strangers. With the way they act toward each other throughout the movie, it’s as if they had been acquainted for far longer than one week. Then after just a few days of learning just how well they can torment each other, they’re ready to instantly switch to sight-seeing and sharing intimate life details?
But this unrealistic plot seems about right for a Netflix movie of this genre. And with that, once you’re able to get past the confusing task of following Charlie and Julie’s feelings toward each other, you can enjoy “Love in the Villa” for what it is: a movie that checks off all the right criteria for a hopeless romantic looking for a laughable comfort movie.
To start, viewers got a slight taste of one of Italy’s most romantic cities through this film. I say “slight” because so much of the movie is shot within the walls of the villa and the plaza directly outside it, but the effort is appreciated with a few scenes showing off Italy’s sunsets, vineyards, markets and well-known statues and fountains. Even the soundtrack includes plenty of songs sung in Italian.
The humor is consistent, even forced at times such as in moments meant to be serious, but it still works in helping the movie live up to its genre. Smiles can be drawn from over-the-top scenes like food fights and crying sessions, while the most genuine laughs are elicited from the film’s more subtle elements, mainly the characters’ differing personalities and passing remarks. Tom Hopper does this for his character particularly well, as does his wife, actress Laura Hopper, whose character I won’t reveal for the sake of avoiding spoilers.
Though not something that typically makes or breaks a rom-com, the wardrobe in this movie is a stand-out. Julie’s clothes and luggage are a casualty of her earlier feud with Charlie, leaving her to buy lovely dresses that change throughout her vacation. The lineup is exciting to see and looks perfectly tailored to fit Graham and the country she’s staying in.
With clear effort and some genuine triumphs in setting, acting and wardrobe, the slightly forced and impractical storyline of “Love in the Villa” can be quickly forgiven. It’s one to add to the watch list for viewers who are big believers in the saying, “love finds a way,” even if it means the unrealistic and unbelievable happening.