Kat Graham from The Vampire Diaries and Tom Hopper from Umbrella Academy star in a decent but unexceptionally hot Veronese rom-com.
The Netflix confection Love in the Villa draws upon two time-honored customs. The typical rom-com structure is present: two people who are at odds, a meet-cute, a deceit or revelation, an epiphany, a running gag that is repeated, and someone who is pressed for time. Then there are the pre-packaged tastes of Netflix comfort food: familiar B-to-C-list actors, a tacky setting, tired gags lifted from Twitter, production that looks noticeably shoddy, and adequate but uninspired chemistry. Love in the Villa, written and produced by Mark Steven Johnson, mixes both into another another fleeting confection off the streaming assembly line that is pleasant and unremarkable at best but quickly forgotten.
The core couple, portrayed by Kat Graham of The Vampire Diaries and Tom Hopper of Umbrella Academy, meet in lovely Verona, which serves as a cheesy romantic setting but makes for good eye candy in the late summer when it seems like every famous person in the world travelled to Italy. Romeo and Juliet, or “the greatest passionate and tragic love story of all time,” takes place in Verona, as Graham’s Julie informs her third-grade class. Julie, in typical fashion, is a hopeless overachieving romantic turned up to eleven. She dreams of visiting Juliet’s balcony in Verona, laminates her travel itinerary, and reserves 7% of her vacation time for “spontaneity.”
When Brandon (Raymond Ablack), her boyfriend of four years who somehow seems surprised by her neuroticism, dumps her on the eve of their Verona holiday, Julie proceeds solo. She endures a flight from hell, lost luggage and a reckless cab driver who nearly crashes while trying to hand out his mom’s cannoli from the front seat (this film is perhaps a little rude to Italians). Supposedly worst of all, Julie enters her private villa to find a tall, shirtless, very fit British man drinking red wine; the villa has been accidentally double-booked. Hopper’s Charlie, a wine importer, insists on staying in “la villa romantica” for the course of Vinitaly, a real conference for wine professionals, much to Julie’s chagrin, though it’s unclear how this development could be considered anything other than fortuitous for her.
Thus begins a silly war over the villa, in which the illusion that these two very attractive people can’t stand each other never clears the bar of convincing.