‘Love Again’ is One of the Single Worst Romance Films I’ve Ever Seen

Courtesy of Sony/Screen Gems

Okay, let me preface this by saying I love a big old stupid romance movie just as much as (probably more than) the average person. The trailers for Love Again kind of gave me PS I Love You vibes and that, despite being an objectively bad movie, is one of my favorite movies to watch on basic cable when I’m feeling maudlin, extra points if I have a bunch of cozy blankets and a robe and a bunch of throw pillows and a glass of wine and a pint of ice cream. That kind of movie is catnip for me. And this looked like a solid entry in that kind of cinematic universe. And yet,Love Again is one of the single worst movies I have ever seen. So, what went so terribly wrong here?

Mira (Priyanka Chopra) is an illustrator and writer of children’s books. She is madly in love with her boyfriend who is allegedly about to propose. In the first scene, he meets her at a coffee shop. They make a date for later, and he walks out into the street. He immediately dies in a car crash. Cut to two years later, Mira is consumed with grief and living at her parents’ house. She is forced to move back to New York City into the apartment shared with her wisecracking younger sister (Sofia Barclay).

As a way to cope with her loss, she decides to start texting her boyfriend’s old number. That number has been reassigned to music critic Rob (Sam Heughan) who, instead of dismissing these texts as spam, like a normal person, is intrigued by them. He believes he’s fallen in love with someone he’s never met. At work, he is assigned with writing a profile on megastar Celine Dion (as herself, and yes, there are new Celine Dion songs in this movie), despite somehow being unfamiliar with her work. She doesn’t talk about her life or career, really, she decides to meddle in this man’s life and make this romance happen. It does, but of course it’s predicated on this horrible secret that has to come out eventually.

Courtesy of Sony/Screen Gems

For starters, this is one of those romance movies where the filmmakers assume you can put two impossibly beautiful people together and sparks are bound to fly. They don’t. Priyanka Chopra is a horrible actress. She comes off as awkward and unnatural, and not in an endearing way. In a “can this sap stop whining already” kind of way. And her chemistry with Outlander’s Sam Heughan, as the one journalist in the world with a six pack, is somehow even worse. He’s described as British at one point and then his accent is distinctly Scottish and then he’s trying to do an American accent for no apparent reason? It’s weird. Nothing compared to the insane accent work Russell Tovey is doing as his coworker, however.

Also, the writing in this film is terrible. Nobody in this movie speaks like a human being. The dialogue is so awkward and stilted, and that’s not just in the delivery. This is the fault of writer director James C. Strouse, as much as any of the performers. Celine Dion is playing a version of herself, this super-celeb who’s also this nosy busybody who has nothing better to do than to help these two people she doesn’t know get together. And that’s a cute idea, if only the movie did something fun with it. She somehow makes the writing sound worse, her line delivery is consistently awful, but at least in an interesting way, not simply a boring way like this film’s two leads.

The movie starts with Chopra’s boyfriend dying in a car crash which we do not see, we see her smiling as he walks away and then we see her face develop a faint look of fear as we hear the sound of a terrible car crash. And this moment of extreme dread and sadness is so awkwardly done, I laughed out loud. My only audience-mates in the theater, a group of older women on a gal’s night out, gave me dirty looks. It set the tone for the next hour and a half pretty well though. Something that is funny but never on purpose, never romantic and impossibly cringe inducing from beginning to end.

Courtesy of Sony/Screen Gems

Love Again could be a powerful story about grief, trauma and the power of love. Instead, it’s an utter debacle full of awkward performances, actors with absolutely no chemistry whatsoever and a complete lack of laughs, charm and even the kind of sweetness you expect from a movie like this. I’ve seen made-for-TV romance movies do this kind of thing better. This is a complete waste of these actors’ time, and especially a waste of the audience’s. I can’t think of a single type of person I could recommend this film to, especially since so many others have managed to do it better. Even Celine Dion superfans should steer clear.

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