Big picture? This movie is a romantic fantasy with some very unhelpful messages. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it! And I do find some interesting concepts here about relationships that are useful to explore. The basic premise is that Sophie and Victor go to Italy, have separate adventures, Sophie meets a cute boy while helping his grandma find her lost love and realizes it is Charlie she loves and not Victor. There is much more to the story and it is beautiful and smiley to watch.
Not so great: this film furthers the narrative that we all have one true love and it is up to fate or “destiny” whether or not we find each other. What a load of BS. Finding true love also involves finding a deep understanding of yourself and the patience and persistence to find a partner who is a great fit for you based on this knowledge. Dating can be a grind and just waiting for “destiny” to occur and present our ideal mate is probably not going to be too successful for many of us. Another concerning aspect is this endorsement, maybe even prescription to make fast decisions when in the first flush of love. Claire regrets not making the leap to be with Victor when she was a 15-year-old school girl spending her summer in Italy. Once she finds him again in her 60s they are getting married within a couple of months, presumably with one or the other of them moving a great distances to be together. And Sophie and Charlie are both encouraged to make a quick decision about being with each other even though they’ve only just met, spent a few days in a car together traveling around picturesque Tuscany and witnessing a contrived – though totally enjoyable! – long lost love story play out before their eyes. Plus, they seemed to hate each other for most of the first few days until one kiss beneath the stars changed everything. One has to wonder, did Sophie feel this way about Victor in the beginning of their romance? I bet she did, especially if it played out in this type of irresistible setting. And what do Sophie and Charlie truly have in common, at least by this point in the movie when they are professing their undying love for each other? They are both gorgeous and blond and love Claire and have each lost parent(s), but is this enough to sustain them? There is benefit to allowing some time to pass before making any big decisions in a new relationship. See how it wears over a little bit of time. Its ok to be convinced in the beginning that you have found “the one” and enjoy that feeling to the fullest! Just don’t rush into any life changing decisions; like moving from London to New York or vice versa. Charlie says he is a realist in contrast to a romantic; I think it is totally possible and ok to be both, at the same time. This is how you hope for the best, enjoy the moment, but also keep your feet on the ground.
I thought there was some interesting material to be mined from the Sophie/Victor relationship. They go on vacation but don’t spend any time together. They have different interests. They don’t really support each other’s dreams or even really seem to care about them. Sophie has imposter syndrome about being a writer and Victor doesn’t have a clue about how or an inclination to support her in this. She finds his passion about cooking, food, wine boring even though it looks pretty fun to me. At one point Sophie says to him something to the effect of ‘but we are supposed to want to spend all of our time together!’ ‘Supposed to’ is akin to a should and those are dangerous words. They make others’ opinions and inclinations superior to what your inner self is telling you. And individuals in couples may have different needs as far as desired amount of togetherness – a mismatch isn’t always a dealbreaker, but it certainly can be one if there is disagreement about what that looks like. I think there were missed opportunities to explore Sophie’s imposter syndrome and how her rejection by her mother at a young age affects her adult relationships. There’s a lot of meat there, but this movie was made to be a lighthearted romance and they totally succeeded.
One big message from the movie I can unequivocally support is the idea that it is never too late for love. Love doesn’t always appear on our own desired timetable and can be damned elusive. Keep your heart open and keep looking, with intention. It is possible, I’m proof.