In recent days, Italy is popular with the film industry in Signore Volpe, Toscana, Hotel Portofino, and now Love and Gelato. Rome and Florence are the main attractions in this Netflix teen rom-com. An awkward teen trying to find herself in a foreign land is nothing new. Nor is a deceased parent leaving behind clues of his/her life growing up. Perhaps the only thing new is the amount of food Lina leaves on her face chowing down on the wonderful Italian food. You would almost swear she was in a food fight. Drowning your sorrows in a maritozzo (bread stuffed with whipped cream or custard) will do that to you.
Although Love and Gelato fails to mention it, maritozzo is the Italian word for “husband.” In the 19th century, on the first Friday in March, men proposed by placing engagement rings in the pastry. Presumably, they also paid for any necessary dental work. Even though they planned to go together, Hadley’s last wish demanded her daughter, Lina, go to Italy alone. Met by her godmother, Francesca, Lina receives her mother’s diary of some eighteen years earlier. Francesca’s cousin, Howard, provides Lina with her mother’s camera. There’s much about her mother she doesn’t know, including the name of her father. Studying at her mom’s bedside and getting into MIT was a snap compared to Italian boys. Two will alter the direction of her life. I give Love and Gelato 3.0 Gavels and it receives a well-deserved 5.0/10 IMDb score.
Alessandro is the rich, sultry, playboy-type, though smart enough to earn a place at Harvard in the fall. Lorenzo is the poor kid, but talented as a cook. Is he good enough to be accepted at The Cuisine Royale in Florence? An invitation to an Opera fundraiser is too much to resist. But, what is it that Alessandro sees in the American girl with few social graces? Rescued by Lorenzo, Lina seems more attuned the wannabe chef, but he has a girlfriend of two years. Besides, she heads back to Boston in the fall. “Italy has a way of transforming you” goes the old saying. The diary will lead the way.
Mostly unseen since the late Halt and Catch Fire, twenty year old Susanna Skaggs, as Lina, carries the film as far as the plot will allow. Since Insider publishes “22 of the Worst Moments in Love and Gelato, my take is that the 110 minute film needs more gelato. Ever notice that the backward teen always has a best friend who’s over-stimulated and boy-crazy? That part belongs to Anjelika Washington (Stargirl) as best friend Addie. Taking a break from the assassin, Villanelle, in Killing Eve is Owen McDonnell as Howard.
“Attach a lock, throw the key into the Tiber, and your love will never end.” Apparently, that works in the Seine, too, and who knows how many other places? Last time I was in Paris, the locks were so numerous they became a nuisance and the City was cutting them off. Did that cause a run on divorces in France? For archeological buffs, the viewer gets a brief view of Trajan’s Market, the world’s first shopping mall, built around 100 A.D.
“There’s something just off a bit with Love & Gelato. It’s bad for you, even if it goes down smoothly and a bit too easy.” Ready Steady Cut
“The conscious callowness is agreeable, but it lacks freshness, like a midnight pasta reheated in the microwave.” New York Times
Put this one in the neighborhood of a Hallmark TV movie, but certainly not on par with a Hallmark Hall of Fame film. “Agreeable” is about right.