Film and drama Opinion

WHAT'S ON: Love You Like That — Cupid's arrow misses the mark

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The discovery of a mysterious woman on a beach causes the residents of a seaside community to understand what matters most in their lives. Digital editor Dan Jensen shares his thoughts on a new Australian romantic comedy.

★★☆☆☆

LOVE YOU LIKE THAT is the feature directorial debut by writer/director Eric C Nash and stars Allira Jaques as Mim, a mysterious woman with no memory who is discovered naked on a beach by Roy (John Jarratt). Once she begins to meet the residents of the coastal town of Seafront Sands, she discovers a disconnection between them and finds a way to make romance blossom and repair broken relationships.

The film also stars Mitchell Hope as Harrison, the owner of a dating agency who is unlucky in love. Mitchell’s star is rising internationally after being cast in Disney’s Descendants series and he is most definitely an actor who is heading for great things. Both he and Jaques are likeable and charismatic leads, with Jarratt also providing yet another terrific performance.

The beachside town setting is cosy and inviting with some great production design making Love You Like That a pleasant film to watch. But really, the positives end there. Overall, the film had so many good intentions and there’s a decent film buried in there somewhere, but the end result is a bit of a mess.

When we’re introduced to the character of Mim, she appears to be this free-spirited, happy-go-lucky woman without a care in the world who finds beauty in absolutely everything. A cup of coffee is the best one she’s ever tasted, a work of art is the greatest thing ever produced and there is good to be found in even the nastiest of people. It was a pleasure to sit back and see where her character’s journey would go, but once the revelation is made as to who she truly is, the story goes into this weird fantasy realm which feels like a complete U-turn from where it was headed.

The dialogue in the film is completely unbelievable. Every line sounds like actors reciting words from a page and none of it resembles natural conversation. Exposition is clunky, sometimes having characters lazily explaining what’s going on in a scene when the audience can clearly see it anyway. And while it tries to be a comedy, none of the jokes in Love You Like That work. One character in particular, Emily (Steph Tisdell), comes off as incredibly annoying.

The cinematography in the film is rather distracting. Most of the shots looked clean, but every now and then there was a strange glow present, like that old Hollywood technique of smearing Vaseline on the lens. There were also some drone shots mixed in which looked great, except they were in super crisp high definition and didn’t match the shots they were edited between.

But it’s the story that lets Love You Like That down the most. Resolutions between characters just happen without any real effort. Conflicts are resolved simply because it’s almost the end of the film and it’s time to wrap them up. It’s obvious that this is all due to the presence of Mim, but it never really goes deep enough into the whys or hows. There’s no real dramatic conflict throughout the film. One example is a brother and sister (Jarratt and Barbara Hastings) whose relationship has become strained over the years. So? Another is a woman whose soldier husband went missing in action overseas and it’s made incredibly obvious early in the film what the outcome to that situation will be.

All that being said, it’s not a complete disaster. As a first-time film by Nash, Love You Like That definitely earns points for effort. It’s clear that the cast had fun making it, which lends an energy that saves it from being a total failure. Had the script gone through several rewrites and more attention been given to directing the secondary characters as well as the leads, it could have potentially been a far better film.

Also, it’s never a good idea to end your film at a party where John Paul Young (or something resembling a cardboard cutout of him) mimes his way through ‘Love is in the Air’ while a synchronised dance suddenly starts between couples on the floor. That level of cheesiness should never be allowed to hit cinema screens.

Love You Like That is now showing in cinemas across the country.

You can follow digital editor Dan Jensen on Twitter @danjensenmovies or check out his YouTube channel, Movie Talk with Dan Jensen.

Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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