Love in the Villa (2022)

Love in the Villa
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Writer: Mark Steven Johnson
Cast: Kat Graham, Tom Hopper, Raymond Ablack, Laura Hopper, Sean Amsing, Emilio Solfrizzi
Seen on: 1.10.2022

Julie (Kat Graham) is the biggest Romeo and Juliet fan, so she has meticuously planned the vacation of her life in Verona together with her boyfriend Brandon (Raymond Ablack). Only that Brandon breaks up with her days before the trip. Julie decides to go anyway. But after this start, with her luggage lost along the way, she arrives at her romantic apartment in view of Juliet’s balcony – to find that it is already occupied by Charlie (Tom Hopper), in town for a wine conference and not in the least interested in Verona itself. Neither of them is willing to give up the apartment – at least not willingly. Instead they try to force each other out. And that means spending a lot of time on each other.

Love in the Villa is pretty much what you’d expect but somehow even more USAmerican than that. It has enjoyable moments, but it didn’t really win me over.

The film poster showing Julie (Kat Graham) and Charlie (Tom Hopper) facing each other. She is wearing a triumphant smirk, and he a sceptical expression.

To be fair, just from looking at it, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t love Love in the Villa, but in my COVID haze, I wanted something light, and it definitely promised to be that – a promise it absolutely keeps. But the things I thought it would be and dreaded a little, also came true.

That is first and foremost, the long fight over the apartment that feels even longer. Playing pranks on each other is already not my kind of fun, but the pranks they play, especially Julie are very troubling indeed. Luring cats into the apartment because Charlie has an allergy, and a pretty severe one by the looks of his first reaction, is potentially life-threatening. And getting him arrested by the police is also not a whole lot of fun. Probably not life-threatening for a white man, but as a Black woman she should probably know better.

Julie (Kat Graham) and Charlie (Tom Hopper) exploring Verona together.

And this part of the film simply outstayed its welcome. It felt to me that they spent most of the time fighting with each other and had no time to fall in love, really. This kind of fighting until they kiss thing is just not my preferred romance trope. Trim the film down to a crisp 90 minutes (instead of the two hours it is actually long) by omitting most of these shenanigans, and you might have something.

That something would still be USAmerican tourism culture in its purest form, and your mileage will probably vary on how charming you find that, but it probably would have satisfied me more than the existing film did.

Julie (Kat Graham) and Charlie (Tom Hopper) at the Wall of Love.

Summarizing: yeah, well, okay.

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