Love Wedding Repeat review: a repetitive reception Netflix romcom

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Netflix’s new romantic comedy Love Wedding Repeat explores only some of the infinite possibilities of its premise – here’s our review

In quantum physics, the many-worlds theory states that all possible outcomes of our actions are physically realised in some other alternate timeline or universe. Constrained partly by a grounding in reality but mostly by the tropes of successful romantic comedy films that came before, writer-director Dean Craig’s latest, Love Wedding Repeat, doesn’t venture much further than its starting point.

Pontificating about the fickle nature of love and the universe, the opening scene of the new Netflix romcom presents Jack (Sam Claflin) being thwarted in a romantic moment at the end of a wonderful day with American war correspondent Dina (Olivia Munn). Three years later, they get another chance to fix their missed connection when Jack’s sister Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) invites them both to her lavish wedding in Italy.

However, they’re both seated on “the English table”, along with Hayley’s “man of honour” Bryan, (Joel Fry) Sam’s ex-girlfriend Amanda (Frieda Pinto) and her jealous partner Chaz, (Allan Mustafa) the boring and unctuous Sidney, (Tim Key) the gregarious and infatuated Rebecca, (Aisling Bea) and most troublingly, drug-addled admirer-of-the-bride Marc (Jack Farthing). Worse still, one of their drinks has been spiked with a powerful sedative, and from there, the film explores the different potential outcomes of their random seating.

As a writer, Dean Craig broke out with 2007’s Death At A Funeral and its 2010 American language remake and while this looks to be a farce in a similar. Here, he’s remaking another film entirely – the 2012 French comedy Plan de Table – as well as nodding to the grand tradition of Richard Curtis romantic comedies and the parallel storytelling of Sliding Doors.

For fans of TV’s Community, the farcical structure will be even more reminiscent of the celebrated 2011 episode Remedial Chaos Theory, which carefully packs a whopping seven different timelines into about 22 minutes. Despite having a feature’s worth of room for a similar multiverse of madness, Love Wedding Repeat takes so long to get the premise on its feet that it doesn’t even get to four weddings. Or a funeral.

Doing her best Helen Mirren impression, the lofty yet informal narrator (Penny Ryder) alludes to how there are thousands of ways the seating arrangements could yield different results, but we only get to see two of them, sandwiching an admittedly funny montage of other outcomes. But more pressingly, Craig’s script never distinguishes its characters enough to make their cosmic game of musical chairs matter.

Claflin and Tomlinson have some very moving scenes together as loyal siblings, but revealingly, almost none of the other romantic partnerships offer as much chemistry. Indeed, several of the other principals (especially Pinto) feel somewhat marooned by the film’s staggered to and fro.

Happily, the supporting cast of British and Irish comic actors are in their element – especially Key, who expertly weaponizes his sore-thumb unease like the Alan Partridge alum he is. Elsewhere, Fry makes terrific slapstick out of how sleepy he feels in at least one standout scene, while Bea’s hilarious, motormouthed shamelessness makes her the funniest player in the ensemble. It’s safe to say the comedic heavy lifting is split between these three actors.

Love Wedding Repeat offers all the ingredients for a funnier and more energetic postcard romcom, but they remain deconstructed on the plate, served up with a side of dark comedy and corny existential musings. Even with a cracking cast and a prolonged build-up to establish the characters and setting, this is a film that doesn’t prize its characters so much as their compatibility.

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