‘Love Wedding Repeat’ review: Dreary Netflix romcom flatters to deceive

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There is a very popular Facebook group called ‘That’s it, I’m Wedding Shaming’, where guests share the most cringe-worthy ceremonies and receptions they have been to. This includes maid of honour speech disasters, wrecked cakes and revelations of infidelity from the couple. In Love Wedding Repeat, all of these scenarios could take place — depending on who sits in a particular spot. As the poet John Milton so eloquently wrote, “Chance governs all.” And that’s what this Netflix movie, directed by Dean Craig, explores.

 

Adapted from the 2012 French rom-com, Plan de table, the film is set in Rome, at the wedding of Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Roberto (Tiziano Caputo). Her brother, Jack (Sam Claflin), walks her down the aisle, the ceremony goes off without a hitch, and the luncheon reception is in full flow. That is when the fun begins. Jack is dealing with a contentious ex-girlfriend, Amanda (Freida Pinto), and trying to make a move on Dina (Olivia Munn) — but has also been given the task of keeping Haley’s coked-up fling, Marc (Jack Farthing), away from Roberto.

What would you do in this situation? The easiest way, perhaps, is to get security to escort Marc out of the reception. But that wouldn’t make for a good story. So he stays, and the siblings hatch a plan to knock him out with a strong sedative in his bubbly. This fails miserably, thanks to children playing around with the place cards, messing up the seating plan. The butterfly effect leads to a series of disasters, which culminates in… well, we aren’t told exactly. What we are shown is a series of outcomes, depending on who drinks the tainted champagne.

Love Wedding Repeat (Netflix)

  • Cast: Sam Claflin, Olivia Munn, Eleanor Tomlinson, Freida Pinto, Tim Key, Allan Mustafa
  • Storyline: A brother does everything he can to make sure his sister’s wedding day goes smoothly, including juggling an ex-girlfriend, an uninvited guest, and a potential romance

The largely English cast brings in a lot of dry humour, where the awkwardness is palpable through the screen. For instance, when Dina, a war journalist, is recounting her experience of being kidnapped by the Taliban, she is constantly interrupted by Sidney (Tim Key), who believes his tales of being a car insurance salesman are more riveting. He is also wearing a kilt, although he is not remotely Scottish. Amanda, who has turned up with boyfriend Chaz (Allan Mustafa), constantly berates him — one wonders why he would put up with that, let alone ask her to marry him. The flippant and light-hearted treatment of such a toxic relationship rankles at times, although Pinto plays her part well.

‘Love Wedding Repeat’ review: Dreary Netflix romcom flatters to deceive

Claflin breezes through his role, while Munn is the perfect foil — his English propriety and her American straightforwardness are at odds, but the on-screen chemistry is undeniable. The wedding is not the first time they have met, and he considers her the one that got away. Till the very end, we are kept guessing: will they have their happy ending?

If you are expecting a sweet and funny time travel story like About Time (2013), this is far from it. It does get us contemplating fate and our place in the universe, with a few big laughs along the way. But the slow pace makes you want to fast forward to the action: is only at around the 40-minute mark that things pick up. A more brutal approach at the editing table might have made this a snappy, feel-good watch. Instead, it ends up being a movie you can play in the background while working from home.

 

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