While most romantic comedies intentionally skirt around the unlikelihood of finding a truly happy ending, Love Wedding Repeat is inherently built around it. How many millions of ways can any particular moment go wrong or right? The possibilities are endless and so are the variables. Romance is often just a colossal void of what-ifs and rare moments of unfiltered happiness. Finding your person is an unbelievably arduous task in a world of seven billion people, and its a lot more difficult when the woman you think you might love is a war journalist who has the tendency to disappear for extended periods of time, and maybe even get kidnapped.
Jack (Sam Claflin) has returned to Italy to escort his lovely sister, Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson), down the aisle. They’re obviously close — she admits with glossy eyes that though the absence of their father is painful, she’s immensely happy that her brother will be the one taking her arm. The guest list is almost entirely composed of Italians, but Hayley has surrounded herself with a group of her closest friends, all of whom are assigned to get cozy at the ‘English table.’ The collection of non-Italians includes Jack’s ex-girlfriend, Amanda (Frieda Pinto), her shallow boyfriend, Chaz (Allan Mustafa), Hayley’s man of honor, Bryan (Joel Fry), the very talkative Rebecca (Aisling Bea), an eccentric bachelor called Sidney (Tim Key), and Hayley’s American friend, Dina (Olivia Munn), who happens to be both utterly gorgeous and an incredibly intelligent war journalist. Learning of Dina’s attendance leaves Jack flushed and sputtering. Jack and Dina have been infatuated with each other from afar since they visited Hayley in Italy during this same weekend several years earlier. Late, and uninvited, to the party is Hayley’s sort-of-stalkerish, strung out, ex-something named Marc (Jack Farthing), who has determined that he is the one she should be with. Rather quickly, they’re all forced to deal with the consequences of unanticipated reunions and messily entangled love lives.
As much as the film wants to reconfigure a genre that tends to fall back on formula, Love Wedding Repeat suffers from a lack of distinctive choices in its cinematography, as well as some choppy sequences, and a few weirdly placed shots, including a few too many shaky handheld captures in places where the camera should be completely steady. There are admittedly several moments that become noticeably faithful to formula, but overall the film tends to subvert the genre’s tropes the way it intends. The script is fairly sound, and almost all of the film’s comedic and romantic moments are pulled off convincingly. The dialogue is surprisingly sharp and much of the bickering – which carries most of the humor – feels authentic. The performances are quite enjoyable, and seeing both Sam Claflin and Olivia Munn in this setting was incredibly pleasant. While the first two-thirds are filled with romantic failures and chaotic, drug-induced hilarity, the last third is saccharine and sweet, offering a fulfilling conclusion to such a frustratingly difficult quest for love.
It feels a bit empty at times, which seems due to the stiffness of the production design. The film is set in one location for almost the whole of its runtime: an airy Italian estate that feels suitably pretty but plain. The strange staleness of such a banal setting is only furthered by shots marked with overexposed sunshine and flat color-grading. If either of these aspects had been approached more creatively, it might have made up for the inconsistencies in the cinematography. The same goes for costume design – more innovation would have lead to a much more visually appetizing experience.
The most engaging thing about Love Wedding Repeat is its eagerness to question the statistical probability of a happy ending, and its exploration of all the disastrous choices that are unwittingly made before any sort of normal romantic moment can occur. Occasionally, people are prone to drown their loneliness in tequila, or accidentally consume an obscene amount of sleeping drugs. Sometimes coked-out former lovers stumble into your wedding, and there might be many, many Italians left bewildered, possibly offended, and very confused. Maybe, despite the unpredictability of love, everything works itself out.