Based on the novel of the same name by Jenna Evans Welch, Love & Gelato is a new romantic drama which has just landed on Netflix. Written and directed by Brandon Camp, the movie stars Susanna Skaggs, Saul Nanni, and Tobia De Angelis, and follows the story of a young woman who travels to Italy to fulfil a promise she made to her deceased mother.
In the film, Lina Emerson journeys to Rome to spend the summer exploring the city. Her mother spent her youth in Italy, and after her death, Lina is keen to follow in her footsteps before she heads off to college.
A short while into her trip, Lina discovers her mother’s diary, which details her own time spent in Rome. Through her mother’s daily accounts Lina is able to learn about an important romantic encounter, which provides information about her absent father.
But not only does Lina uncover details about her own past, she also meets two guys who could pave the way for a romantic summer. One of the guys is Alessandro, while the other is Lorenzo.
Alessandro is from a rich family, is cultured, and charming; while Lorenzo is working class, friendly and kind. Both take a shine to Lina, but with so much going on in her life, does Lina really have room for a romance?
Over the course of the summer, Lina learns a few things about life and love. She also gets to experience Italy in a new way, which brings her that much closer to her mother.
Love & Gelato is one of those movies that on paper sounds like it could be pretty good. The central theme of self-discovery offers up plenty of room for a decent story, the Italian setting has scope for some strong visuals, and the double romance angle gives the film a little bit of drama.
And in all fairness, Love & Gelato isn’t bad. The story is competent, the film has some decent performances, and the whole thing looks good from start to finish.
The problem is, Love & Gelato is average at best. It is fine for what it is, and it is no way a terrible film, it just never takes any risks, doesn’t showcase anything that hasn’t been seen before, and doesn’t really go anywhere.
It’s the sort of film that can be put on in the background while doing something else (ironing, washing, paint by numbers, etc). You can dip in and out of it as you please, and if you miss a bit here or there, you won’t really care.
The reason you won’t care is because the film feels like two hours of nothing particularly important at all. It’s all a bit uneventful, and that’s ultimately a bit of a shame.
In terms of Lina’s journey of self-discovery, she learns some stuff, but nothing astounding. In terms of the side-plot about her absent father, nothing much comes of that either.
Then there is the romance, which has a couple of nice moments, but it all feels slight. There’s no passion or excitement, and things kind of fizzle out on that front too.
On the plus side, Love & Gelato does look good, and if you’re simply after a little jaunt to Italy or you want a spot of sunshine on your television, then it can certainly provide you with this. Love & Gelato is nice to look at, and if it’s raining outside or you simply want some light escapism, then it can fulfil this brief.
The movie also benefits from a solid lead performance from Susanna Skaggs as Lina. Skaggs has a likeable presence throughout the movie and is somewhat reminiscent of Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries.
In fact, Love & Gelato reminds me a little of The Princess Diaries movies from the early ‘00s. Not quite as enjoyable, and certainly not as interesting, but a similar feel nonetheless.
But beyond all this, Love & Gelato is a fairly sedate, ‘by the numbers’ type of movie. There’s nothing particularly offensive going on in here, but nothing exciting either.
If you watch the film, you won’t hate yourself for it, but I doubt you’ll care what’s on offer either. Chances are you’ll also forget what you’ve watched as soon as it’s all over.
Fine to view, but nothing amazing, Love & Gelato is a middle-of-the-road affair. It probably could have benefited from more love, and certainly a lot more gelato.