Sad and lonely single folk mourning different yet equally devastating loss, connect with each other due to a telco recycling mishap and discover that their hearts do, in fact, go on in Love Again.
Written and directed by James C. Strouse and based on the 2016 German flick SMS für Dich, Love Again stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan as Mira Ray and Rob Burns, with Céline Dion making her feature film debut as a somewhat fictionalised version of herself.
Mira is an illustrator and children’s author who witnesses the tragic and sudden death of her long-time boyfriend John, an event that sends her into a 2-year emotional spiral. Rob, a music critic for a big time New York paper, was broken up with a week before his wedding and has come to the conclusion that love is a fallacy meant for idiots.
Both Mira’s depression and Rob’s cynicism have bled into their work with Mira’s publisher pushing her for more uplifting artwork and Rob’s editor accusing him of losing his heart. At the prompting of a friend, Mira begins texting John’s old number to express her sadness and talk about her day. Rob, who’s new work phone uses John’s old number is immediately struck by Mira’s words and finds himself gradually falling for her despite never having met her. With the help of his new bestie Céline, who he’s being forced to write a feature on, Rob attempts to meet Mira and turn his fantasy into reality.
Love Again is a very old-school, somewhat-problematic-but-really-heart-warming movie that is genuinely enjoyable when you suspend belief for 1h 44m. Sure, Rob’s behaviour is maybe a little bit creepy, but who cares? He’s handsome and has a Scottish accent!
Heughan, who shot to stardom playing chiselled and brooding Highlander Jamie Fraser is still finding his feet in Hollywood it seems; while his 6-season run on the Starz megahit show Outlander has more than proven that he’s a capable and expressive actor, his run at the silver screen has thus far felt a little awkward. His role in the 2018 comedy The Spy Who Loved Me was rather forgettable due largely to his co-stars being Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, and Hasan Minaj – all powerhouse comedy performers by nature. Still, he makes a valiant effort for this one. Comedy isn’t easy to execute, but one thing Heughan is excellent at is making people swoon, and when he’s actually trying to woo Mira, it shows. *Insert hot and bothered emoji here*
Chopra Jonas similarly hasn’t had much success in Hollywood either, despite starring in big budget comedy Baywatch with Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson. Primarily known for her work in Bollywood, Chopra Jonas is often acknowledged for her screen presence, and she doesn’t lose any of that here. Mira is very endearing, full of little ‘quirks’ like a penchant for putting fries into her burger and asking people bizarre ‘would you rather’ questions. She’s wonderfully portrayed on screen, and we do feel pity for her, so of course we want her to be happy again. She’s also, thanks to Chopra Jonas, one of the few South Asian romantic leads in a major Hollywood production. Points for diversity and representation.
Whenever the relationship between Mira and Rob feels like it might be lulling, Strause makes excellent use of the film’s supporting stars to fill the gaps. In Mira’s corner is her sister Suzy (Sofia Barclay) who is so whip smart and funny, pushing Mira to get on dating apps and fix her “vitamin D deficiency”. Barclay and Chopra Jonas have this very loose, easy, genuine chemistry on screen that makes their relationship so believable. Barclay manages to take an otherwise 2-dimensional character and make her one of the most interesting in the whole film.
The other scene-stealer is Rob’s co-worker Billy (Russell Tovey) who gets to chime in with the quippy one-liners and be Rob’s mostly ignored voice of reason. It would have been nice if the film had explored their friendship more closely, but Tovey makes the most of every minute that he’s on screen, ribbing Rob for his poor decision making and the general absurdity of the whole situation.
Then, of course, there’s Ms Céline Dion. The Canadian chanteuse knows a thing or two about love and heartbreak, having built her career on powerful love songs and lost her husband and long-time manager René Angélil in 2016. Dion serves as Rob’s relationship guru, pushing him to approach Mira and move beyond a one-sided crush. Was she really needed for more than one scene in order to make the plot work? Probably not, but her star power is undeniable and it’s fun to watch her lightly bully Rob into pursuing Mira.
I am a firm believer that the world needs more low stakes movies, especially romantic comedies. Strouse understands this and delivers on the concept flawlessly. Love Again is saccharine, gooey, and more than a little silly with a script and plot that will make you laugh, cringe, and most definitely smile and that’s its appeal. It’s just a simple movie executed perfectly to make audiences believe that survival after heartbreak is not only possible but inevitable. Love, one way or another, will show itself again.