By Jo Berry
Saddled with one of the worst movie titles since Tom Cruise’s Live Die Repeat (that was eventually renamed Edge Of Tomorrow), Netflix rom com Love Wedding Repeat (see what they’ve done there?) tries to follow the same format as that sci-fi actioner by telling the first part of a story and then positing the different outcomes that occur if you change just one thing – except with less bullets and aliens and more champagne, penis references and pretty dresses.
It’s also a bit Sliding Doors meets Four Weddings And A Funeral as Jack (Sam Clafin) arrives at his sister Hayley’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) Italian wedding to give her away.
Despite the stunning location, it’s destined not to be a picture-perfect day thanks to the guests that include Jack’s angry ex-girlfriend Amanda (Freida Pinto, deliciously nasty) and her insecure boyfriend Chaz (Allan Mustafa), well-meaning bore Sidney (Tim Key), aspiring actor and man of honour Bryan (Joel Fry), and Dina (Olivia Munn), the American journalist Jack spent a weekend in Rome with three years ago and has carried a torch for ever since.
To make matters worse, Hayley’s former school mate Marc (Poldark’s Jack Farthing) turns up uninvited, coked-up, and determined to declare his love to the bride.
Why and when does it all go wrong?
Marc’s unexpected arrival leads Hayley to beg her brother to slip a sedative into the uninvited guest’s drink to stop him causing any trouble. This Jack reluctantly does by adding it to the glass next to Marc’s place card at the dinner table, but then some of the children at the wedding switch the cards around when no one is looking, and it is pal Bryan who gets the drugged drink instead.
So, a catastrophic wedding is on the cards – especially as increasingly sleepy Bryan is due to make a speech – and we watch as it all unravels in the worst way possible, until it all pauses on the very brink of disaster and then magically rewinds and resets.
A short montage posits various other combinations of the day (most involving embarrassing altercations and fights), depending on different seating arrangements at the table and who got the sedative, before the final third of the movie details a second proper version – the one that reveals just who needs to take the medicine for it all to end in a happily ever after.
Who should have taken the sedative?
While we should probably raise an eyebrow at the moral implications of Jack roofie-ing anyone, at least if Marc had drunk the drugged champagne as was intended, the wedding reception probably would have gone on without a hitch.
Instead, the final version of the story has Jack accidentally swallowing the drink himself, and then threatening his own happiness by nodding off while his crush Dina opens her heart to him.
Don’t worry, though, as things do improve for poor Jack when he wakes up, and he’s not the only one whose life gets far better in this reality – the wedding goes smoothly for Hayley and her new husband, Bryan begins a romance with fellow guest Rebecca (Aisling Bea), Chaz realises how awful girlfriend Amanda really is, and even dull old Sidney finds the person he is destined to be with.
Is it any good, then?
Don’t go by the Netflix trailer (see above), which paints Love Wedding Repeat as a laugh-riot with lots of madcap outcomes – there are really only two versions of Hayley’s wedding, and the laughs are on the gentle side rather than side-splitting gags.
Based on a Belgian/French movie (Plan de Table), it’s pretty predictable and packed with wedding movie clichés (to the point that Four Weddings And A Funeral’s writer Richard Curtis probably has grounds to sue), but it does boast some gorgeous Roman scenery and a terrific cast.
The wonderful Aisling Bea is sadly underused, but Claflin makes for a cutely awkward lead and Farthing (reuniting on screen, of course, with his Poldark co-star Tomlinson) is reason enough to watch as the lovelorn drugged up interloper threatening to ruin the happy day.