Free for all month is back thank God. I don’t think I can deal with another 2 hour+ melodrama, even if it does have good costuming and spunky musical numbers. Not for a little while, anyway.
To counterbalance the seriousness/worthiness of last week, I’ve chosen Netflix’s latest romantic offering – and it does exactly what it says in the tin. Lovely.
When city girl Gabriela spontaneously enters a contest and wins a rustic New Zealand inn, she teams up with big-hearted contractor Jake Taylor to fix and flip it.
City gal Gabriela (Milian) is having a time of it. Keen to do well at her job in property development, she’s overlooked constantly by her douchey male counterparts, who – shocker – do not take her seriously at all. Even though she’s got some kick ass environmental ideas that could change the game forever. She’s also struggling with her boyfriend Dean (Bowyer-Chapman), who’s dragging his heels commitment-wise.
Then she’s made redundant and her relationship ultimatum backfires on her. So, one evening, pissed up and feeling melancholy in her PJs, she enters a competition to win a gorgeous little inn in picturesque New Zealand. All she has to do is write a little something about why she should win.
Well, Gab’s something of a dreamer and her piece easily secures her the prize and just like that, she leases out her San Fran apartment and hits the airport. (This movie absolutely taps into my secret fantasy of skipping town and starting over somewhere quaint and peaceful).
Gabriela finally arrives at her destination after a comedy of errors, during which she meets pretty boy Jake (Demos). The pair don’t exactly hit it off right away, Jake is bemused at how unprepared she is for the countryside, while she thinks he’s a smart arse.
When she claps eyes on the Bellbird Valley Farm Inn, she’s gutted to learn how rundown it really is. A shell of its former self and nothing like the glorious property she was promised. It does come with pet goat Gilbert though. And with a little help from her accommodating new friends; including a same-sex cafe owning couple, Norm from the hardware store and the delightful Shelley (Claire Chitham), our Gabs is about to turn it all around.
Jake turns out to be a shit hot handyman too which comes in er, handy when Gabriela reluctantly accepts his help. But could they be falling in(n) love? What do you think?!
Of course there are complications, rival B&B owner Charlotte (Anna Jullienne) wants to get her hands on the inn and have Gabs return to the USA as soon as possible. Meanwhile, she’s scheming to get Dean back in Gabriela’s life to ensure that happens. Which could throw a spanner in the new couple’s blossoming romance, to say the least.
And what of this incredible job she’s just been offered back in San Francisco? Oh it is all such a mess and it’s such a shame when Gabi was doing so well, learning valuable life lessons and making fresh plans! What’s a girl to do?
If you’re looking for romantic comedy clichés then, baby you’ve come to the right place. In fact this movie would make the ideal drinking game companion. Suitcase rolling down a hill and getting run over by a car, driven by our romantic lead? Check. Inappropriate footwear resulting in a broken high heel? Check. Reckless but hilarious driving through town for the first time? Yeppers.
Oh, and Jake isn’t a dickhead, he’s actually a widower and therefore twenty times more sympathetic (aka attractive)? Hell yeah.
There’s also a romantic subplot about the previous owner of the inn and a pile of old love letters that helps Jake and Gab on their way to Lurvesville. FIL really reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie and that is its strength in my eyes. I just love them so much. We’re not here for gritty realism after all, this is all about escapism.
Milian is adorable while Demos isn’t exactly hard on the eyeballs, if you like that sort of thing. I love the supporting characters. Gab’s GBFFs Peter and Anaaki bring the lols and the fresh baked goods, while Shelley feels like a woman you’d genuinely go for a pint with.
The scenery too is breathtaking and this is the first Netflix original movie shot entirely on location in NZ, which is cool. Maybe running a B&B is my calling in life too?