It really needed more montages.
Look, I know the latest Netflix rom-com, Falling Inn Love (2019), came out at the end of August and I’m late to the party, but oh wow, I just watched the trailer for this movie the other day and I knew I had to review it! I mean, the title alone, with its horribly forced pun, was enough to sell me on taking the time out of my day to watch Falling Inn Love. Maybe I’m just a simple movie critic, but if you piece together a rom-com with two attractive leads, a stunning location, a cast of friendly characters and top it all off with an aggressive pun, you’ve got me in the palm of your hand. There was a lot to like about this moderately entertaining rom-com, but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough to make me want to check into this inn a second time.
Falling Inn Love follows Gabriela Diaz, a big shot architect who has just lost her job and boyfriend. After winning an online contest, Gabriela travels to New Zealand to fix up the dilapidated Bellbird Valley Farm of which she is now the owner. There she meets Jake Taylor, the local contractor who helps her with the remodel and becomes her business partner. As the inn takes shape, so does the budding romance between newly single Gabriela and town bachelor Jake.
Personally, I can’t think of anything less romantic than backbreaking physical labour to bring two people together. Have you ever seen a couple try to work together on home improvements? Condescending remarks, shouting matches, stubbed toes…it rarely ends in smiles. But hey, what do I know? I’m single and can barely change a lightbulb without bursting into tears of frustration. Maybe home renovations are the remedy for the unlucky in love. Clearly Netflix seems to think so because Falling Inn Love doubles down on every rom-com cliché in the book. Probably more so than any of their original movies I’ve seen recently. Can we talk about Netflix and its choice of original programming for a second? I love that they’re essentially now an amalgamation of the Lifetime and Hallmark channels. Their original movies are dripping with more cheese than a faulty fondue fountain and Falling Inn Love is no exception. The movie starts and my hand to God, it only took until the 2 minute and 11 second mark for me to declare that it was the hokiest, silliest, predictable rom-com I’ve seen since The Princess Switch (2018). By the way, you can check out my review for that movie here. In other words, it’s terrible and I was living for every second of it.
Starring as Gabriela is Christina Milian who plays the role with with all the necessary sweetness and innocence expected of a Hallmark leading lady. What is there to really say about the role or Milian? Gabriela is a cute, kind, hardworking lady who is played to perfection by the cute, kind, hardworking Milian. Though Milian isn’t exactly the most experienced actress in the world, she does her best to imbue each scene she’s in with passion and charisma. She succeeds for the most part, but I could have done without her constant exposition and need to describe everything she’s feeling or doing. Often the movie will put her in a silly situation as rom-coms tend to do, and she’ll feel the need to explain it all to us. Us, the audience who just watched what happened. Really, a quick quip or funny reaction would suffice in these scenes, but it takes a more seasoned actress and director to realize that. Falling Inn Love has neither.
What it does have though is Adam Demos, the Australian actor who plays Jake. Resembling the long-lost fourth Hemsworth brother, Demos doesn’t bring much to the table acting wise. Again, in a fluffy, low-stakes rom-com such as this no one’s looking for award-worthy acting, but Demos comes off as dull for most of his scenes. At least, what I could decipher from his low, Aussie accent came off as dull. Neither Milian or Demos are necessarily bad actors but they’re left high and dry with a lacklustre script that is dampened by their equally lacklustre chemistry. There’s just so much talking going on and not nearly enough romance, comedy, renovating or anything of real interest. Ugh, and one of the few times Gabriela and Jake AREN’T talking, the movie shows us a minute and a half scene of the two TYPING AND DELETING TEXTS TO EACH OTHER. I literally paused the movie and asked myself, “am I really watching a scene of two people texting but not really?”
This movie was wildly uneventful. 45 minutes in and all Gabriela had done to the inn was a bit of light sprucing. Jake hadn’t even agreed to help her yet! Where was the renovation and romance I was promised? Thankfully, there are two saving graces in Falling Inn Love to distract from the mediocrity of it all. The first is the location. I never realized how gorgeous New Zealand is and as the movie progressed, I made up my mind that I have to visit one day. Especially if the people are as warm and friendly as the colourful cast of side characters Gabriela befriends. They’re the second saving grace. You guys, I was hands down more interested in every other character’s life besides Gabriela’s. The generous couple who run the coffee shop, the friendly old hardware store owner, the talkative florist, the clumsy doctor…I’d love to live in a small town with these characters! The movie builds a great sense of community and found family that is undoubtedly its most charming and enjoyable aspect. Oh my God, with 14 minutes left in the movie there’s a fire for no reason, and let me tell you how cute it is seeing the entire town act as the volunteer fire department. The whole thing is very Gilmore Girls (2000 – 2007, 2016).
Falling Inn Love is silly and bad, but not enough to love. It certainly won’t live on in the hearts of rom-com fans, nor will it inspire any sequels or television series of the same name. Although, maybe I do need a TV series adaptation to answer a question that bothered me from the beginning of the movie to the end: Is it legal to just give away a building / business through an online essay contest? Lawyers, let me know. Oh, speaking of the contest, I just want to say that as a writer, I can confirm that opening a bottle of wine before writing a 400 word essay is absolutely the way to do it. Sure, her essay sounded terrible but so did the movie it was written for.
Have you seen Falling Inn Love? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!