Love Again (2023) Movie Review: Good rom-coms bring a mature sweetness married with a graceful feeling of calm in the central love story. There’s an unspoken and endearing tenderness that the films bring while providing a keen sense of comfort. After enjoying a cultural resurgence starting in 1989 and ’90 with the release of films such as “When Harry Met Sally,” the genre has always been subject to the cultural framework. Now we’re in the era of the Netflix rom-com; movies made for streaming that end up being so fanciful yet slapdash they can leave you longing for a grounded movie. Director James C. Strouse’s latest, “Love Again,” isn’t released directly on streaming, but it certainly feels like one.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas plays Mira Ray, an award-winning illustrator who witnesses the death of her love in front of her eyes when he is hit by a drunk driver at the beginning of the film. The scene plays with the accident concealed from the viewer, with the camera lingering on the actress’ surprisingly impassive face. Two years into her loss, Mira begins to embrace the choice of moving on.

She’s coaxed into returning to the city by her younger sister Suzy (Sofia Barclay). Hence, the grief-stricken Mira begins to put herself out there through a dating app till she eventually finds herself on a sub-par date with a midtown-bro cheekily played by none other than Nick Jonas. To cope up with that and all that preceded, Mira begins texting her raw feelings to John’s old number, now recommissioned as a new work phone to Rob Burns (Sam Heughan) – a morose music critic reeling from a recently broken engagement.

Two things seem to break Rob’s iciness – heartrending texts from a girl he’s yet to meet in person and an assignment to profile Céline Dion – someone who embarks on her first tour since the death of her husband/manager from cancer. Rob soon deduces to seek the gorgeous Mira with the help of his bow-tied colleague Billy (Russell Tovey), and even more obviously, contrives a way to cross paths with her in real life. That his plan involves sitting through a dozen opera performances in the hope of catching sight of his mystery crush (almost) embodies the spirit of the film that also masquerades as being a grief drama.

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The French-Canadian singer Céline Dion is often called the queen of the power ballad. Here, she comes in handy as the love guru, playing a barely fictionalized and meta version of herself as she shares details from her real-life relationship with Angélil. Alas, the film doesn’t commit itself to this self-aware tone and morphs into a feature-length advertisement for the power of technology to bring people together.

Watching the two leads turn to the camera every once in a while and say, “That’s the dating app where the girl gets to make the first move!” was enough for me to realize how Sony’s history with product placement would translate here.

“You have the presence of a pair of used underwear,” Dion’s character tells a character at one point in the film. A more committed romcom would’ve known how to convert the very absurdity of the screenplay into a metaphor for the absurdity of love. But the sheer fact that the two leads in the film share zero on-screen chemistry at all render most of the intimate moments cold. We watch Mira decide to pour her heart out to John’s mobile number until she ends up connecting to Rob. But her reaction to eventually finding out the truth doesn’t reflect any of the internal dynamics going on with her. Despite several sensitive moments that depict the frayed edges and boundaries of grief, the film submerges itself into a territory from which it never really recovers.

It’s only your knowledge of Dion’s real-life trajectory that informs her mildly complex character’s strong survivor side; her character remains one of the only endearing for some people to take. To the extent that it might become too much for some viewers to handle. Overall, “Love Again” comes across as an over-the-top and completely misplaced film that soars against the boundaries of anyone with a taste in heart warming romcom.

Also, Read: Year Of The Fox (2023) Movie Review: Has all the ingredients and the recipe to make a great dish, but couldn’t cook it well

Love Again (2023) Links: IMDb
Love Again  (2023) Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Céline Dion
Where to watch Love Again

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