Before we start - and sit tight, because we have a lot to rip into - there are two very special people I need to address: first, my true love, Nick Jonas. Nick, I love you; you were actually one of the only bits of joy I got from this film, but I know your wife is the lead in this and I just need to say sorry for what you are about to read. Secondly, and most importantly, Céline Dion. You are my everything and literally the only redeeming aspect of this mess; I hope you got paid well because you absolutely deserve it. Okay, now that's out of the way, let's break some hearts.
'Love Again' is about many things, none of which land. We have Mira (Priyanka Chopra Jonas, 'The Matrix Resurrections', 'Baywatch'), who two years after the loss of her partner is slowly trying to get her life back to some kind of normalcy. We also have Rob (Sam Heughan, TV's 'Outlander', 'Bloodshot'); he writes a music column in a newspaper, but his partner dumps him days before their wedding. Because his heart has been ripped out, he's assigned to write a piece about Céline Dion. Rob has also been assigned a work phone, at the same time Mira has decided to help her move on, she sends text messages to her partner's old number... I'm sure you see where this going. His old number is now Rob's work number, and Rob begins to fall for this mystery girl. After a series of, well, stalkings, he connects Mira to the mystery texter and they begin to date, without her knowing he has been receiving her texts to her dead partner. Of course, all of this is overseen by Dion and her words of wisdom.
Okay, so how did we get here? We have four reasons, first 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. In 2014 a successful film soundtrack was a thing of the past, but due to the success of 'Guardians' everyone was trying to replicate its success, most notably 'Suicide Squad' in 2016. Tied into that idea we had 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which capitalised on the successful film soundtrack but with it being one core group. This not only made the film a tonne of extra revenue but also the entire Queen discography had newfound relevance and income. 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody' is the best example of trying to capitalise on this. Now with that in motion, in comes 'Last Christmas', a romance movie but heavily pushing the soundtrack featuring the music of George Michael and Wham! So, in comes this new idea of capitalising on a famous singer or group without having to be a biopic and again getting that sweet, sweet revenue of soundtrack sales. Finally, U.S. remakes of foreign films almost never work, but 'Love Again' is based on the German film 'SMS für Dich' - so with all that preamble out of the way, does 'Love Again' successfully pull off what any of the above films set out to do?
Firstly - the acting, it's atrocious. Chopra Jonas and Heughan have absolutely no chemistry, the relationship in this is so incredibly bland. I haven't seen a lead couple with such a negative spark between them in a long time. This isn't all their fault; the script is a mess and the couple barely spend any time on screen together. But that aside, these are some of the worst performances of both of their careers. The opening scene where Mira's partner is hit by a car is conveyed by a close-up of Priyanka's face and it just lacked everything; she literally gave nothing, a blank space. Sam is also lacking here - in one scene he is showering and singing Dion's 'It's All Coming Back to Me Now' and it's meant to be this big comedy moment but he is so stiff and rigid, it made me feel so incredibly uncomfortable.
Chopra Jonas and Heughan have absolutely no chemistry, the relationship in this is so incredibly bland. I haven't seen a lead couple with such a negative spark between them in a long time.
The plot has many problems, but none more so than the idea that to get over grief, just date a really hot guy and all is good. Now, there is some merit in moving on from grief through a new relationship, but the way the film frames it is so toxic. It's so heavy that Mira needs a man to get over her former partner that it made me feel so incredibly gross inside. The film also wants to be a cheesy romance film like 'You've Got Mail', a fun throwback to the late 90s/early 2000s style but also wants to be deep and meaningful about grief and moving on. Now the point of reference should be the film 'Return to Me', a film about grief and moving on on the cheesy side; for those unfamiliar that film it follows a guy who loses his wife only to fall in love with someone who his wife's heart was donated to, but weirdly that film is just a little more earnest and self-aware so it works better. 'Love Again' wants you to root for a couple who not only has a liar-revealed plot but also includes the leading man stalking and tracking down the love interest.
Now let's get to Céline Dion - man, even through this trash pile, she is so loveable. Every time she was on screen, I was filled with so much joy. She is just so warm and charismatic that you can't help but fall for her. Now, here is where they lost me. In 2016, Dion lost her husband of 21 years. Two days later, she lost her brother on the same day as her late husband's birthday. This is a very real event that was incredibly heartbreaking and devastating. 'Love Again' take this very real loss and uses it to push the narrative forward as the reason Mira and Rob should be together. It felt so manipulative and frankly vulgar to use Dion's extremely real tragedy as a catalyst for these fictional characters to be together.
I could be here for hours pulling this movie apart with its flaws - the nit-picky things like the fact Rob appears to own one button-up shirt with gold dragons over it that he wears under every piece of clothing, Mira's sister playing a PlayStation by only using the right trigger button and then turning it off by pressing the "triangle" button. The fact that the performance of Dion over the credits looks like a fan's phone recording at a concert and the actors singing along seems like it was filmed on Skype on one of the first webcams ever invented. But at its core, 'Love Again' is soulless from its manipulative plot, packed with bland acting, it fails on every level. The cheesy romance aspects lack, while the emotional elements feel soul-sucking. The only redeeming quality is Dion; she is just one of those gifts to the world and you can't help but be drawn in by her presence.
I guess if the film wanted to boost Céline Dion's Spotify numbers it worked. I've only been listening to her since leaving the cinema.