Love & Gelato review – bad for you, but goes down smoothly

June 23, 2022
M.N. Miller 0
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
2.5

Summary

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.

2.5

Summary

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.

This review of the Netflix film Love & Gelato contains spoilers. 

Netflix’s Love & Gelato is a young adult story that follows a young woman, Lina (Halt & Catch Fire’s Susanna Skaggs). She is embarking on an exciting time in her life. She has just graduated high school and has been accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). However, she has had some hard times. Her mother has recently passed away after being sick. Besides having everyone dressed in the color pumpkin spice at her funeral, she has one last wish. To have her daughter travel to Rome before she heads off to school. Helping her break out of her shell is her best friend, Addie (Anjelika Washington). 

Lina is the shy and anxious type. The kind of girl that is too book-smart for her own good and who would rather read about life than live it. When she arrives, Lin meets her mother’s cousin, the uninhibited Francesca (Valentina Lodovini). She introduces her to her mother’s old friend, Howard (Killing Eve’s Owen McDonnell). Francesca hands Lina a journal her mother kept, which is also part of her last wishes. While the diary could have been read in one night, Lina takes in a little bit per day (I mean, how else could the story be laid out over 90-minutes?).

From there, she meets two guys — the dreamy-eyed Alessandro (Saul Nanni). He’s a young man from a wealthy family who cannot live up to his father’s expectations. The other is the sweet Lorenzo (Tobia De Angelis), who dreams of becoming a professional chef. 

You can guess the plot from there. Writer and director Brandon Camp (Love Happens, Dragonfly) adapted the New York Times bestseller by Jenna Evans Welch. Having never read the source material, it is admittedly hard to point the blame at the story’s inconsistencies and the general plot. There is also the issue of one male suitor that screams a potential sexual predator in the making (we will discuss more on that later). For one, there are little minor details that are overlooked. For example, Lin has a dish spilled over the front of her dress, but there is no stain in subsequent scenes. You have, in general, the story that comes down to Lin’s mother’s true intentions that don’t ring true. 

Why would her mother want Lin to experience a time of great stress in her life? When she became pregnant at a young age, and the father wanted nothing to do with her? The natural experience would want more for her or protect her. At the very least, while she would never regret having Lina, she wouldn’t want to put her in that position. However, she wants her to experience the same carefree summer? Possibly meet her father, who wants nothing to do with her? The risks do not outweigh the spoils. The final manipulative twist is to pair her with a man as a father figure she never had. To expect someone, a man, to be an adoptive father figure for a girl with no emotional attachment for 18 years is stretching reality pretty thin. 

Then, there is the character of Alessandro, who grows more entitled and manipulative by the scene to get what he wants from Lin, which is physical and emotional intimacy. He gaslights her at every step, saying he wants a committed relationship after brief meetings and cheats on her the next day. It’s the type of character that is turned off and should send out immediate red flags for any young woman. 

That being said, the Lorenzo storyline has a certain charm and carefree spirit of Love & Gelato that make the film go down easy since it’s so light and smooth. It may be cliche, but the nerdy, anxious girl who has her nose in a book is a trope, but a classic one. And Susana Skaggs does what the role asks of her. She has a quality and “look” that I would compare to young Amy Adams. That’s endearing. So is her romance with Lorenzo, both charming enough to get you to care about the story. 

This is a small production, so I know there must be limitations, but the secret weapon for a film like this is not just capturing the sights and sounds of Rome but the food. While there is one big dinner scene, this could have been a visual feast for the eyes and generally plays well for audiences. This could have been used to grow the romance and chemistry you get a little bit of. Precisely when Lorenzo and Lin briefly churn the Gelato together and when we meet the young man’s adorable grandmother. 

It’s those dinner scenes I wish the film utilized more to grow characters into three-dimensional human beings and relationships. And it is a disarming way to build communication (think of films like Waitress, Chocolat, and an underrated YA movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey). I do not doubt that Love & Gelato will do well with the young adult crowd, it was a solid effort that was entertaining at times, but the whacky plot and unfortunate love triangle are too much to ignore. 

Love & Gelato is bad for you, even if it goes down smoothly and a bit too easily. 

What did you think of the Netflix film Love & Gelato? Comment below.

You can watch this film with a subscription to Netflix.

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