Love & Gelato
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In Love & Gelato, Lina makes good on the last dying wish of her late mother: a solo post-graduation trip to Italy. There, she’ll retrace the footsteps of her mom’s youth and maybe, just maybe, find true love along the way–and some very delectable, homemade ice cream from a real Italian “nonna.”
Written and directed by Brandon Camp (Love Happens, Benji); executive produced by Gennaro Formisano (The Great Beauty, The Hand of God); starring Susanna Skaggs (Halt and Catch Fire), Saul Nanni, Tobia De Angelis, Anjelika Washington (Stargirl) and Owen McDonnell (Killing Eve).
If there’s one universal truth, it’s that when you feel bad, you don’t want to feel worse. This is just as true in movie watching as it is in everyday, real life. And for a lot of folks, one kind of movie to watch so as not to feel worse about oneself, generally speaking, is a glitzy, kitschy, cheesy rom-com. You know the ones–city-slicking reporter meets country cowboy, girl next door meets a bad boy (and/or Mr. Nice Guy), and so on. Well, Netflix has introduced the next big title in this particular arena with Love & Gelato–and the not-so-subtle meet cute trifecta is newly orphaned high school grad, Italiano Bad Boy and Mr. Nice Guy.
It’s not exactly the best acting in the world, truth be told. There’s a lot of exaggerated movements and emotions. But at the same time, Love & Gelato is totally unashamed of its heightened dramatics. Take for example the scene where the lead character (played by Susanna Skaggs) walks through all the streets of greater Italy and into a fancy-schmanzy Michelin-star restaurant, only in her PJs, just to throw a temper tantrum about how the quote-unquote “bad boy” is creeping on her there with another girl. This, of course, is only minutes after he became her self-proclaimed first kiss. It’s the steadfast commitment to its outlandishness that we can appreciate to certain extents.
To put it another way, Love & Gelato is like a bargain bin version of Emily in Paris. Love triangle, check. Obnoxious American abroad, check. Soul searching and inner monologues, double check. The newer streamer, currently in Netflix’s Top 10 as we speak, just lays it on a bit thicker. It’s truly “ringarde,” to borrow an Emily phrase, and it doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.
There’s no question about it: Love & Gelato is pretty corny. Nevertheless, it’s the exact kind of sweetly innocent confection that will melt in your mouth. What’s more is that the film offers a slightly more authentic ending than the average rom-com fare, one where choosing isn’t always about which of which romantic partner.
If you like Hallmark or Lifetime movies, if you like snuggling up with pizza and a comfort choice, if you like the naivete of coming-of-age stories like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, then this pick is the one for you. The narrative has the same light-heartedness mixed with drama that those audiences will appreciate. Or, if you’re a teenager with a likewise fondness for Italian hotties, then this is really the one for you.
Love & Gelato is based on the book of the same name by Jenna Evans Welch. There are two others in the series, Love & Luck and Love & Olives, so if this first entry onto the Netflix scene continues its reign in the top 10, we might just see some sequels adapted in the future.