“I like to imagine a fairy tale ending.”
Watch out Hallmark, Netflix is making a move.
Combining beautiful people, visually stunning landscapes, and a story infused with blossoming love and cliché conflict, Falling Inn Love offers little in the form of originality. Instead, it plays true to the genre, providing a night of easy viewing for anyone yearning for a happy ending.
Bearing a strong resemblance to the onslaught of holiday films we get every year from the likes of the Hallmark Channel, Falling Inn Love trades the snow and Santa Claus references for a DIY renovation and fish-out-of-water storyline. It isn’t anything new, but somehow within the context of its many moving parts, it works.
Christina Milian stars as our fierce, independent damsel-in-distress Gabriela, a San Fransisco based executive who spontaneously enters an online contest after finally ending it with her passive, never present boyfriend (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman). The wine-induced late-night decision results in an unexpected win, sending her on a flight and three bus journey to New Zealand.
Though painfully bare and fundamental, the plot speaks to its demographic well. Keeping the story light allows the pacing to remain steady, especially when Gabriela meets Jake (Adam Demos), the town’s well known and respected contractor. Limited sets and locations create the opportunity for our two leads to unintentionally meet regularly, especially once Gabriela realizes that much like today’s dating apps, the pictures on the contest page were anything but accurate; the Bellbird Valley Farm is an intense renovation project.
As expected, it is their journey that rests at the center of the film. Both the renovation and Gabriela’s eco-friendly mission are quietly tucked into the background, giving room for the two to learn and better understand each other. A special day at the beach allows the film to find its main pulse as it transitions from funny to romantic. However, the long-overdue romance proves to be the film’s most frustrating aspect. Krumble, known for such iconic films like Cruel Intentions and The Sweetest Thing, struggles to let his two leads take the plunge and express themselves - whether through words or actions.
The slow build-up, which can often work, is overdrawn here, especially as the film inches towards its long foreshadowed conclusion. Thankfully all it takes is a montage of frustrating stares into a cell phone screen, backed by a slow, melancholy track to sort through the film’s primary conflict. Though it does prove difficult to get fully drawn into the characters without either of them struggling through their emotions and therefore not having any real “heart” in the game.
Falling Inn Love is not a great movie; however, it is suitable for what it is. It reminds me of the 2009 Renée Zellweger starrer New in Town. That film wasn’t sure of its identity and it showed. Here we’ve got a movie that thrives on its predictability and commonness. Though that unusually bothers me, this is mindless fun that proves decent enough.
*Falling Inn Love is now streaming worldwide on Netflix.