When her long-term boyfriend breaks up with her on the cusp of a romantic trip to Verona, American school teacher Julie Hutton decides to go on the trip regardless. But after experiencing delays at the airport, an uncomfortable flight, and the loss of her luggage, Julie’s vacation to Italy seems doomed from the start.

Of course, things couldn’t get any worse, could they? Well, yes, they do; because when Julie arrives at her villa, she discovers her accommodation has been double booked, with handsome British wine connoisseur, Charlie Fletcher, already staying at the property.

After some initial disagreement, Charlie and Julie come to an arrangement to share the villa, promising to keep out of each other’s way as best as possible. But keeping apart is easier said then done, and they soon find themselves spending more time together, leading to plenty of irritation and a number of practical jokes.

Can the pair overcome their minor disagreements to enjoy their vacation or are they destined to be rivals? And more importantly, if they can put their differences aside, will love blossom in the villa?

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Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, Love in the Villa stars Kat Graham and Tom Hooper. The movie is available to stream on Netflix from today and is a whimsical romantic comedy, which is light and airy, with its heart in the right place.

The film focuses its attention on the developing relationship between its two central characters, Julie and Charlie, and uses their initial rivalry to create a touch of conflict and comedy within the story. From here, there is room for a bit of romance, to create a ‘will they, won’t they(?)’ plotline, and things move along accordingly.

Of course, this kind of thing has been done before, and it has been done better, but that doesn’t stop this film from being mildly fun, fairly likeable, and occasionally amusing. In fact, one of the strengths of this movie is its light touches of comedy.

While the gags in Love in the Villa are never laugh out loud hilarious, they are funny enough to cause a few titters. Kat Graham, who plays the role of Julie, has good comic timing, and she is responsible for some of the movie’s funnier moments.  

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In terms of the romance, it’s slightly less successful, but still acceptable. Graham and her co-star, Tom Hooper, are fine in their respective roles, but they lack a certain chemistry when together, and this takes a little sheen off the romantic aspect of the movie.

As rivals, they are fine. As a couple in love? I’m not entirely convinced.

For me, there’s not a single character in this film who should be together. The romance may be in the script, but it doesn’t quite come across on screen, and this is a problem.

It also doesn’t help that the movie is perhaps a little too long for its own good. The film – and the romance between the two leads – could benefit from being a little snappier.   

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Thankfully, there are other elements in play which distract from these issues, such as the beautiful backdrop of Italy, which makes this film gorgeous to look at. The summer might be coming to an end for another year, but one look at Love in the Villa and you’ll feel instantly transported back to those brighter days.

The film also benefits from a pop-infused soundtrack, which is really rather delightful. Love in the Villa utilises a number of classic pop tunes (Bang Bang, Please Don’t Go, etc), all sung in Italian, to accompany Julie and Charlie’s love story, and they keep things fresh and enjoyable.

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While Love in the Villa is not going to win any plaudits for originality, and it has one or two issues that could be tweaked, this is a gentle rom-com which has enjoyable moments. The film sets off on the right footing, aims to deliver something which is likeable and inoffensive, and for the most part succeeds.

Netflix feels like the right home for this movie, and it slots in nicely with some of the streaming service’s other romantic films. It’s not amazing stuff, but it does the job it sets out to do.

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