Oh hey, another day, another Netflix rom-com! Unfortunately, this one cannot hold a candle to the greats like Set It Up or The Kissing Booth movies. Love in the Villa feels very generic and watered down, other than the detail of being set in the romantic locale of Verona. Leads Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries, 17 Again) and Tom Hopper (The Umbrella Academy, Game of Thrones) definitely have great chemistry together—they take the approach of two total opposites drawn together like the two sides of a magnet. One double-booked Airbnb film already came out this year, entitled Alone Together, but Love in the Villa seems in determined competition at which can be the most underwhelming.
Julie (Graham) has been obsessed about a romantic getaway to Italy for years. Together with her boyfriend, Brandon (Raymond Ablack, The Broken Hearts Gallery), for four years now, Julie’s obsession—and meticulously planned itinerary—appears to have rubbed him the wrong way. Brandon promptly breaks up with her, but Julie isn’t going to let him stop her from enjoying her dream vacation. Everything seems to go wrong, from an intense flight to a crazy taxi driver, but what happens once Julie reaches her “La Villa Romantica” definitely takes the cake. A bulky, beautiful shirtless man with a British accent is already inside! Claiming to have booked the villa for the week, Charlie (Hopper) begrudgingly offers for Julie to stay on the couch until they can get the whole thing sorted in the morning.
When morning does arrive, the path ahead seems unclear. “Things always work out for the best in Verona!” Silvio promises, despite his wife botching the booking through two different sites. At first, Charlie and Julie agree to stay on different sides of the villa. Julie misses the bus to her Verona tour, and her travel itinerary is destroyed by messy tourists and motorcyclists. Frustrated and annoyed, Julie tries to sabotage Charlie by first putting green olives all over his bed, and letting all the stray cats in through the window—the olives contain the same natural ingredient as catnip, and Charlie’s allergy to masses of CGI-cats spells trouble. “You started a war you can’t possibly win,” Charlie declares with hive-welts covering his face. From here, Julie and Charlie are at war with one another over who will leave the villa first.
Of course, this being a romantic comedy, it doesn’t take long to get to the romance. Despite the initial hate, Julie and Charlie are eventually won over by each other’s awesome flaws, celebrating how “flawsome” they are. The CGI is very poor, the conflict in the movie lacks a bit of seasoning, and when Love in the Villa finally gets around to delivering a Romeo and Juliet moment of its very own making, it falls flat. Casual viewers of rom-coms will nevertheless probably be content watching Italy sightseeing, and a quickly-developing against-type love story. Personally, I think Graham and Hopper can do better, and I didn’t even have to eat “horse marinated in wine” to come to this conclusion.
Love in the Villa books a stay exclusively at Netflix when it debuts on Thursday, September 1st.