I Love America lacks adequate honesty and enough goodwill to qualify as a fun diversion.
This review of the Amazon Original film I Love America does not contain spoilers.
It’s lovely to see Sophie Marceau back in the movies. The former Braveheart/Bond girl star has been exclusively in French cinema for the past few decades. I’ll admit I haven’t watched her in a film in a very long time. She’s the sole reason to see the new Amazon Prime film I Love America. Ms. Marceau is a breath of fresh air. Even effervescent at the ripe age of fifty, I wish her performance could be lifted and placed in a better romantic comedy.
Written by Lisa Zauelos and Gael Fierro, I Love America tells the story of Lisa (Marceau), a film director who travels to the United States after her mother’s passing. She came to Los Angeles in the hopes of transitioning into Hollywood features. But not only that, she is 43 and looking to rediscover herself while seeking closure from her mother. She abandoned her as a child, which has caused her long-term resentment issues. Her best friend, Luka (Djanis Bouzyani), helps her join one of those dating apps, swipes included. Lisa connects with a younger man named John (Colin Woodell), and after two dates, he is quite smitten with her.
What’s refreshing about Lisa Zauelos’s (LOL) romantic comedy is how Marceau’s Lisa knows that her childhood possibly stunted her maturity. She is not the same person she was in her twenties or thirties. Finding love again is not about finding the person who best compliments you. Well, at least, not right away. It’s about understanding who Lisa is today and how love will be different through her individual growth. To find love is not just to love yourself but to understand who you are at the moment because we are constantly evolving.
For instance, just because she is over forty doesn’t mean she is in the same mature place as men or women her age. She achieves this by finally using the grieving process to forgive her mother. In a touching scene, Lisa forgives her mother and is given closure on her deathbed when she apologizes to Lisa for her parental misgivings.
That being said, I Love America would have worked better as a romantic drama, focusing on layering flashbacks as each act closes to giving our lead a meatier plot to work with. Instead, while the film’s charms are apparent, other than Marceau, this romantic comedy is a stuck-up misfire. The jokes simply are not funny, and the ones that do work miss their mark (the cell phone alert, for example). To make matters worse, the film fails the minimum standard almost immediately when you know that the love interests will break up shortly after the credits roll.
I Love America suffers from having supporting characters with unconvincing backstories that make them as three-dimensional as a couple of flatheads. John is nothing but window dressing and an excuse for Lisa to feel sexually liberated. Not only does Woodell’s John lack common sense or 20/20 vision, had no idea of Lisa’s age and, for some reason, is in disbelief later that she is older than her profile. His reaction borders on clingy. Still, the script asks us to believe they have some emotional connection that is never earned. It’s as if the characters are made not to support the narrative but only the main character.
This makes them self-absorbed and almost pretentious. I don’t know this, but my educated guess is that Lisa has to be outlined by Zauelo’s own life. The dialogue is full of exposition and doesn’t have a natural flow. (There is a scene where Lisa claims there is no word for dating, which I will say, au contraire, there’s a dating site specifically named Rencontre).
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