Love and Gelato is a Netflix film based mostly on a YA novel by Jenna Evans Welch that’s presently the top-selling guide in Amazon’s “Teen and Younger Grownup Clear and Healthful Romance” class, which is sort of the nichey area of interest. The movie stars Susanna Skaggs as a teen who, per IMDb’s plot abstract, “makes a promise to her sick mom that she’ll spend the summer season earlier than school in Rome, the place she falls for the town, the individuals – and the ‘gelato.’” Now, contemplating “gelato” is in quotes, one would possibly infer that it’s a euphemism for no matter simply entered your thoughts (and I wager it’s not clear and healthful). However on this case, the “gelato” is simply literal gelato, since there’s a scene right here wherein Lina eats selfmade Italian gelato and actually likes it. So the implication that this film’s a few younger lady sexing her method by her Euro summer season might be off-base; now let’s discover out precisely what we’re moving into right here.
The Gist: We open with Lina voiceovering (voicing over?) her mom’s funeral. Mother was sick for a very long time, and now she’s gone, buried in a pumpkin spice-colored coffin. It was her favourite colour. Fleetwood Mac was her favourite band, so Fleetwood Zach sang on the service. Who knew demise might be so wacky? Wouldn’t wish to carry us all down mere minutes into the film. Mother and Lina had deliberate a visit to Rome to have a good time Lina’s highschool commencement. Now Lina follows her Mother’s dying want that she go by herself, mirroring Mother’s journey from a pair many years prior. It is a good factor, as a result of in any other case we’d should spend the complete film with Lina’s extremely annoying BFF Addie (Anjelika Washington), who’s actually good at photoshopping pretend backgrounds into her social media posts, so she seems to be like a world traveler. What a jokester!
Some issues it is best to learn about Lina earlier than we get to Italy: She doesn’t know who her father is. After Italy, she’ll attend MIT. And he or she spent her highschool years going to “debate events,” finding out her ass off for AP exams and caring for her mom. Her love life suffered mightily – “What was I imagined to do, carry a date to chemo?” she cracks. She stuffs her suitcase with books and will get on the aircraft and will get off in Rome with a gumpy neck pillow and frumpy sweatshirt and crooked glasses, only a complete flumpmeister common. She’ll keep together with her mom’s previous pal Francesca (Valentina Lodovini), who’s dedicated to making sure Lina loosens up, seems to be nice and makes probably the most of her vacay. First issues first, Francesca sez Lina’s glasses gotta go, and thus begins what one presumes to be her Extremely Blurry Roman Summer time, as a result of she by no means places them again on.
Then once more, who must see clearly when there are younger males to take a look at? One is Alessandro (Saul Nanni), who has the piercing blue eyes of the son of a financier with a fleet of Ferraris and a dictum that his offspring attend Harvard and comply with in his footsteps, or else. The opposite is Lorenzo (Tobia De Angelis), a way more humble gent with curly hair and excessive hopes of changing into a highfalutin chef. Alessandro takes her to the fanciest opera ever. Lorenzo takes her to a secret bakery to get THE most wonderful pastries. Issues: Alessandro is a womanizer who says Lina is totally different. Lorenzo has a territorial girlfriend who races bikes, however she’s leaving on the finish of the summer season, in order that’s just about kaputskies. Different plot litter consists of: Lina buying her mother’s diary, which is filled with revelatory issues, and provides her one thing to learn as a substitute of all the flowery book-learnin’ books. And a personality (Owen McDonnell) who would possibly maintain the reply to Lina’s paternity. However wayyyyy extra importantly, which boy will she select? The one with the cash or the one who could make to-die-for gelato?
What Films Will It Remind You Of?: Netflix’s Twitter feed says Love and Gelato is “kinda like Emily in Paris with out Emily or Paris.” By that token, it’s additionally like The Godfather II with out the gangsters, Name Me By Your Identify with out the homosexual love story, or Earlier than Dawn with out the intercourse or Vienna or high quality dialog and with two boys as a substitute of 1.
Efficiency Value Watching: Skaggs – a relative newcomer with some episodes of Halt and Catch Hearth on her resume – provides an Awkward Woman/Bookworm Turned Magnificence efficiency that’s simply nice, relatable and likable, however restricted by the screenplay’s insistence that the character adhere to all of the acquainted cliches.
Memorable Dialogue: “I principally had a gelato orgasm due to you!” – What would-be chef wouldn’t wish to hear this “clear and healthful” praise?
Intercourse and Pores and skin: I dunno what a “gelato orgasm” is, however it doesn’t match on this class. So, none.
Our Take: Love and Gelato is basically a made-for-TV film with the occasional utterance of the phrase “shit.” “Clear and healthful,” my [pauses for comedic effect] tuckus! The story by no means strays from the well-trod plot paths of lots of of coming-of-age rom-coms earlier than it, teen, clear, um, unclean, or in any other case. I imply, what’s a younger lady who’s by no means taken any dangers in her life supposed to do in Italy apart from be taught all her mom’s not even remotely scandalous secrets and techniques and presumably discover her long-lost father and kiss delizioso scorching boys and eat delizioso scorching meals? We’ve already established this isn’t the kind of film wherein she’d kiss delizioso scorching meals and eat delizioso scorching boys, and that is the final time I’ll poke enjoyable on the complete “clear and healthful” factor, promise.
Author/director Brandon Camp exhibits no need to do something however fulfill expectations, to make us chuckle a pair occasions and possibly tear up a bit of alongside the way in which. Its drama might be deepened by even the slightest nod in the direction of Lina’s grief within the wake of her mom’s passing, however demise is handled like simply one other catalyst for plot growth. Its makes an attempt at comedy snap like overcooked linguine – “Why are you standing there like a boiled potato?” is Camp’s greatest stab at intelligent dialogue. The film’s hull bounces on the tough waters of uneven modifying earlier than ultimately smoothing out (the primary act feels prefer it’s lacking scenes, or else some had been minimize out to hasten our arrival in Italy); it additionally doesn’t appear to have the time for the straightforward pleasures of succulent postcard images, a staple of films like this. With out the honest performances of Skaggs, De Angelis and McDonnell grounding it, the film would cross unmemorably like surroundings on the Ohio Turnpike. A once-in-a-lifetime journey to Italy deserves higher.
Our Name: SKIP IT. There’s a smallish deal made in Love and Gelato concerning the secret ingredient of Lorenzo’s gelato. If it ain’t within the title of the film, I’ll eat my shoe. Or worse, I’ll watch it once more.
John Serba is a contract author and movie critic based mostly in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn extra of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.
Stream Love and Gelato on Netflix