Director: Jim Strouse
Starring: Pryanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Celine Dion, Sofia Barclay, Russell Tovey, Lydia West, Steve Oram, Omid Djalili, Nick Jonas, Celia Imre, Arinze Kene
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 104 mins. Reviewed in May 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Coarse language

A pleasing 21st-century love story, as strangers are brought together by a random text message. Celine Dion plays herself in her first film role.

Definitely a date film – and a film whose plot is dating. Again this is a film for Romantics Anonymous (and this reviewer realising that he should be making applications for meetings and whatever 12 steps are necessary). But, of course, it is a film for those who are proud and unashamed of their love for romance stories. There will be a lot of smiles as we watch Love Again – and, perhaps an alert, probably a tear or two.

Which means that this is not a film for the cynical or those who are prone to label this kind of story as predictable, sentimental. But, once again a reminder that W Somerset Maugham said that sentimentality is only sentiment that we don’t approve of.

The first few minutes are definitely sweetness and light as we meet Mira who draws sketches for her children’s books and Johnny who has an engagement ring and intends to propose to her, but he is suddenly killed in a hit run. There will be a lot of sweetness and light throughout the film but there will also be a pervasive grief.

Then two years later . . . Mira is played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas, an actress in India, educated in the US, with a prolific career in Indian cinema but who moved to the US in 2017 and who is having a prolific career there. Many audiences will realise that she is married to Nick Jonas and we will enjoy the sequence in the middle of the film where Mira is set up by her sister for a first date to break through her grief. She meets Joel, weightlifter and gym enthusiast who talks about having a brain but has sex only on it, a spoof of apps and dates – and, in fact, he is played by her husband, Nick Jonas.

Then to the other side of the romance to be, a Scotsman in America with the perhaps-homage name, Rob Burns. He is played by Sam Heughan, who has appeared in several films but is best known for 87 episodes of televisions Outlander. While there are some Brits in the supporting cast, Tovey, Imre, Oram, Djalili (filming began in the UK in Covid times), they are asked to play with American accents, but Heughan keeps his own British/Scots accent.

Romantic stories sometimes need an audience suspension of disbelief, especially how the lovers will actually meet – and here, based on a German film about texting, this is a device to bring the two together, plus some coincidences, Gluck’s opera, Orpheus and Euridyce, basketball, cheeseburgers . . .

Perhaps Celine Dion should have been introduced in this reviewer earlier. In fact, she is a producer, contributes six new songs as well as singing some favourites, and appears as herself, the singer that she is, memories of her husband and family, her experiences of love as expressed in her lyrics. So, a treat for Celine Dion fans. And, what is she doing in a love story? – Something of a fairy godmother as well as a marriage counsellor, and singing her songs. “What the world needs now is love sweet love” and here is a 2020s version.

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