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Half-hearted attempt at romance

Half-hearted attempt at romance

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan in a still from ‘Love Again’.

Film: Love Again

Director: Jim Strouse

Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Céline Dion, Celia Imrie, Russell Tovey, Omid Djalili, Lydia West, Steve Oram

Johnson Thomas

This contrived romance has Priyanka Chopra Jonas in the main lead as Mira Ray, a grieving New York children’s book illustrator who sends a series of romantic texts to her dead lover’s old cell phone number, inherited by a complete stranger, a journalist, Rob (Sam Heughan). Adapted liberally from a 2016 German film ‘Texts for You’ (SMS für Dich), the plot which may have been considered novel then, seems rather implausible and impractical in today’s times.

As old-fashioned and straight-laced as it seems, this film about two lonely depressed young people coming together on the basis of deeply felt anonymous texts sent ostensibly, to a dead man’s cell phone, is a rather creepy construct for love.

The movie though has genuine emotional music in Celine Dion’s Love and Loss track. It’s a fleeting one and leaves more of an impact than that of the romance between the lead characters Mira and Rob. ‘Titanic’ made Dion a mega star, and it was much later in life that she fell in love with her manager and married him. But Dion has since experienced the agonising pain of loss when her husband and manager, René Angélil, succumbed to cancer. The singer gets a chance to showcase her resilience while making no secret of her struggle to move on. There’s also a comeback aspect to her debut film role with talk gaining ground, about her touring again.

This big-screen romance borrows its heft from Celine Dion’s love ballads. It aspires to make fans feel like their hearts can go on, even after grief and loss. Enlisting Celine to play the love guru is certainly an inspired choice. She, being the mascot of romance with her numerous inspiring love songs, is the right person for Rob to go to in order to seek advice. But Rob, a journalist/music critic, meets her as part of an assignment and it’s only in passing that he tells her about his interest in the anonymous text messages he has been receiving.

Celine’s slight but indomitable presence demonstrates the power of love in all its glory. Rob, played by the Scottish ‘Outlander’ star Sam Heughan, has the good looks of a romantic lead but there’s not much else to his acting repertoire, even though he has ‘been dumped by his fiancée on the eve of their wedding’, to get over.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas looks the part of a grieving lover and it’s bound to get her more romantic lead roles. The chemistry between Chopra Jonas and Heughan, is not exactly palpable. For most of the movie, they are stuck in a one-way conversation. Mira’s texts are way too sad for anyone to fall in love with.

From the start itself, ‘Love Again’ appears to be a half-hearted attempt at romance. It’s very much predictable and doesn’t have enough of a spark to ignite interest. The setup of the central relationship is simply too hokey and the actors, though sincere, don’t seem all that eager to make this look real.