Game of Love (2023) Movie Review: I must confess right at the start that one of the reasons why I like romcoms so much is because they promise to let us glimpse into the everyday stories of individuals belonging to different walks of life. Here, Audrey develops board games, which I barely believe people play anymore. At the same time, Matthew confesses that before he stepped into marketing, he used to be an astrophotographer, someone who takes pictures of the sky.
The stories they share about themselves are as real as human life could get, making them likable and relatable protagonists in the first place with personal and professional interests that intrigue us to learn more about them. Therefore, the premise of Jason Bourque’s latest romcom, Game of Love (2023), automatically makes for an interesting watch.
Audrey (played by Kimberley Sustad), a board game designer, is a lone wolf. She works in a senior position in a company that develops games, whose CEO assigns her the task of coming up with a new board game on love. From what we know of Audrey within the first five minutes of Game of Love (2023), she knows little about this enchanting emotion. Further, she is pointed toward a new marketing consultant, Matthew (played by Brooks Darnell), who has joined the company to help develop and promote this game.
Audrey and Matthew are two very different people, one’s an indie artist, and the other believes that the brand and one’s personality is the one and the same, so when they first discuss their ideas of the game over coffee, the difference in opinion is stark. As the game starts to come together in the course of its runtime, Audrey and Matthew open up about each other’s past and soon feel a connection drawing them together.
Do they end up together? Hell, yes! Bourque’s romcom is very reminiscent of Set it Up (2018), a rom-com where two young assistants try to set up their bosses with one another because it broaches the idea of romance in a strictly corporate workspace. The Game of Love (2023) promises to deliver a fresh board game idea and a cute romance, slightly stumbling only with the latter.
The screenplay of Game of Love (2023) nicely juggles professional gamer lingo and marketing jargon. However, it may be full of too many dramatic incidents that are either forgotten or have a bathetic effect on the storyline, slowly eroding your interest in the film. For instance, To learn more about love, the film spends a few minutes showing the two protagonists consult a ‘love guru’-like character, who conducts seminars on understanding love languages and expressions that can help define ‘love’ better.
Additionally, the protagonists go on a field research trip to a high-end French restaurant where the staff mistakes them for food critics. None of these two incidents is conclusive; they just take place and are not tied up with the storyline for you to make any cohesive sense of them.
Sustad has an appealing screen presence, but her on-screen chemistry with Matthew isn’t very convincing. Besides, their characters seem to be jostling for space to become fully fleshed people whom we will start to care for. In one scene, where Audrey and Matthew visit the planetarium, I was constantly waiting for the characters to dive deeper into why astrophotography interested him in the first place. Instead, the film jokes around two people psychoanalyzing each other as friends. The game idea is very interesting. I was hoping to get more clarity on it by the end. Sadly, Game of Love (2023) is trying in vain to fit too many interesting but half-fleshed-out storylines into one film.
The idea, however, is very meta. Audrey and Matthew are ideating a new game, in the process of which they become participants in the game of love. In fact, there is a shot in the film when Audrey and Matthew are taking a walk before presenting their game to testers. The camera captures an aerial view of this walk, which looks like they are walking along the length of a game board that Audrey had first conceptualized.
Overall, Game of Love (2023) is a feel-good movie only (And only) if you let your imagination rest and promise to stick through till the end.