Writing a romance film is not an easy feat, I can say that from personal experience. One of the first short films I ever wrote was a romance and with nearly every scene you find you’re second-guessing yourself and wracking your brain to try and work out if what you have just written has been seen on screen before. I think it’s because as a writer, you know romance films are normally written in a cheesy way that are filled with tropes that are repeated over and over in nearly every film you see. This is why I take my hat off to writer/director Eric C. Nash and his new film Love You Like That.
There is a lot to love about this film. It takes a simple Australian coastal town, fills it with interesting characters that I couldn’t help but become invested in, and then throws in a storyline that you will never see reveal it secrets before it has to. Plot-wise the film centres around the events that happen after local Roy (John Jarrett) discovers a naked woman washed up on Nim’s Beach. With her memory gone and no way to identify her, local cop, Officer Mitch (John Harding) names her ‘Nim’ (Allira Jacques).
Soon Nim begins to meet all the town’s folk and realises that they all have relationship issues. Roy is feuding with his sister Anne (Barbara Hastings), over her potential development opportunity in the town. Officer Mitch is in the love ‘dog-house’ over his fear of commitment, while local success story Harrison (Mitchell Hope) is running a successful dating app but is never able to find love himself. To round it out, there is also Harrison’s co-worker Emily (Steph Tisdell), who loves sex but like Harrison, can’t find love.
What I love most about this film are the characters. The film almost has a Seachange kind of vibe to it. I found myself falling in love with the characters of the town, however it does feel a tad overwhelming as the film introduces us to too many of the locals. Love You Like That at times feels like a television pilot, and I am almost sad to say it is not because these are characters that I could easily spend a few years getting to know.
Where Nash’s filmmaking expertise shines though is in the film’s big twist. There is no way to see it coming, it is well hidden (something so many films do not manage to do these days) but when it is revealed you find yourself sitting there and thinking “that absolutely works”. The fact that that twist also provides answers to a lot of the other unanswered questions surrounding the many characters is nearly a stroke of genius.
What sets Love You Like That apart from the thousands of other romance films out there is the fact that the film never becomes a cliché. The characters are quirky in the same way that has worked for Australian films like Swinging Safari and Hotel de Love in the past and Nash is a smart enough filmmaker to place these characters in everyday scenarios but with anti-cliched climaxes to their story.
Love You Like That is also a film that is going to introduce some potential future superstars to Australian audiences. Of course, if you are a fan of Australian comedy, you will certainly know who Steph Tisdell is but this film reveals that she is possibly the next Rebel Wilson, as she can also play a pretty lovable quirky characters as well. Then there is Mitchell Hope who is good-looking and a great actor to boot. I can see him going far in Hollywood.
I also found the fact that John Jarrett is not playing a ‘psycho role’ in this film a great relief. Jarrett is a great actor but over recent years we have seen him typecast since his portrayal of Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek. To see him play a friendly local willing to help gives him a chance to remind people that he is capable of more than just horror.
Love You Like That is not going to be everybody’s cup-of-tea. The film has a quirkiness to it that is normally reserved for Australian TV shows like Seachange or Something In The Air and that is something I have discovered in the past has either been loved or hated by people. Either way, I certainly had a soft spot for Love You Like That.