Our Take: 2/5 Stars
Netflix is no stranger to the romantic comedy genre and with the release of “Love in the Villa,” fans have a new “enemies to lovers” story to enjoy. The film starts by introducing Julie Hutton (Kat Graham, “The Vampire Diaries”), a schoolteacher who is fascinated with Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and has long dreamed about visiting Verona, the setting where the play took place.
Julie decides to be bold and asks her longtime boyfriend Brandon (Raymond Ablack, “Maid”) to go with her, which leads to him getting second thoughts about their relationship and subsequently breaking up with her. Although devastated, Julie makes the bold choice to book a villa in Verona and embark on a perfectly scheduled trip by herself.
Well, things do not go perfectly at all when she arrives in the city and discovers that her supposed private rental villa has been double-booked by a handsome young British wine aficionado named Charles (Tom Hopper, “The Umbrella Academy”).
This kicks off an unpredictable romance where at first the duo despises each other while having to coexist in the same villa. The two are incredibly different both in appearance and personality. Julie is short, straightforward and methodical, while Charlie is tall and sarcastic.
Their dynamic leads to very predictable banter and scenarios as they inevitably become closer as the movie progresses.
They become friends as they realize that there is no point in hating each other when they are forced to be together, and then things get more serious between the two.
“Love in the Villa,” is not making waves by being groundbreaking or unique in the world of rom-coms, but it is still an enjoyable watch.
The locations are beautiful and the overall production quality is great, and you can see that Netflix wanted the movie to be visually appealing.
Another positive note is Hopper’s performance in the movie. The actor suits this type of character well, and it is always a joy to see him in comedic settings. Hopper offers a more quiet kind of comedic energy that is refreshing and perfectly timed.
While Graham is a great actress, it is unfortunate that she did not shine in this role and fit the standard “feisty female character” that is often placed on women in rom-coms.
The overall direction and writing of the movie were also quite standard but not off-putting to the viewer.
Women in romcoms fit very specific tropes, but Julie is a little different, not necessarily in a positive way, but it is not her fault. While she is “feisty” and spirited she is not independent which generally goes hand in hand with female characters in many movies throughout the rom-com genre. Instead, she is depicted as someone whose life revolves around being with a partner as she gets out of a long-term relationship and immediately gets into another.
The lack of individualized character development has to do with the directing and screenplay as the viewer does not get much of a chance to see Julie outside of a relationship setting.
Julie has a checklist of places to see and things to do in Verona when she arrives but all of that is scrapped when the double-booking incident
occurs and immediately catapults her into a new romance with Charlie. Because of this development, there is no chance for the audience to get to know Julie as an individual.
While the “enemies to lovers” storyline is considerably oversaturated in the rom-com sphere, “Love in the Villa” is an easy-to-watch and rather casual film that offers some beautiful shots, some lighthearted moments and an overall pleasant watching experience despite its generic nature.