NOW ON NETFLIX! Choose Love, directed by Stuart McDonald and written by Josann McGibbon, takes its title literally. See, this Netflix romantic comedy is a choose-your-own-adventure film. Characters break the fourth wall, often, to denote an upcoming choice viewers will have to make. This creates an experience with high rewatchability, though reviewing it is a little complicated, as no two play-throughs will be the same. As such, this review reflects only a version of what the movie could. But one question looms large: is this even worth going through once, much less all the possibilities it offers?
Cami (Laura Marano) is a recording engineer with a loving boyfriend, Paul (Scott Michael Foster), whom she’s been with for the last three years. While the couple is at a game night (which can be won or intentionally thrown) with Cami’s sister, Amalia (Megan Smart), and brother-in-law, Florian (Benjamin Hoetjes), Cami agrees to take her niece, Luisa (Nell Fisher), to school the next day. There, Cami runs into her high school sweetheart, Jack (Jordi Webber), which stirs old feelings of passion. Then, at work, she meets rockstar Rex Galier (Avan Jogia), with whom she shares instant chemistry and is forthright about some of the musician’s latest singles and their issues. Now, through the prompts, anyone watching chooses who Cami will see when (and sometimes why), meaning that the potential partners get more or less screen time depending on the choices made.
This style presents Choose Love with an obstacle that changes each viewing. The suitors become more or less interesting depending on where one leads Cami. For instance, with one exception (more on that later), I chose nothing related to Jack. As such, he came across as a total dullard in my viewing, having such little interaction/alone time with the lead. But for someone else, it could be Paul or Rex who bears the brunt of the side effects of this sort of storytelling. Thus, the rom-com has built-in repeated viewing, which I am sure makes the streaming giant most pleased.
“…through the prompts, anyone watching chooses who Cami will see…”
This issue might also be due to the relatively safe nature of the screenplay. Stripping away the choices and at its core, this is a generic romantic comedy with good-looking leads and a few surprises. The characters lack depth, which is part of the issue of needing each one to seem like a good match for Cami and have several different endings that make sense. However, the script includes several whipsmart touches that overcome the somewhat banal characters. Most choice prompts are indicated by Cami directly breaking the fourth wall, delivering zingers and summations with breathless ease. Also, in the best scene (that I experienced), in an escape room, Florian reacts to Cami’s talking to the camera, and she retorts, “You heard that?” It is hilarious.
Such moments land throughout Choose Love thanks to the cast, which is the film’s secret weapon. Marano is perfect as the overanalyzing but perpetual perky lead. She shares good chemistry with all three suitors, and her comedic timing is as assured as she is cute. Foster is sweet as the reliable boyfriend, while Webber is handsome (again, he didn’t come up much in my watch, so that’s my takeaway). Jogia rules as the Harry Styles by way of Rod Stewart rocker. He has a good singing voice, and he and Marano light the screen up.
To appropriately evaluate the movie, I went through every ending. They all have a certain charm and sweetness. Plus, Cami winds up where she deserves no matter who you root for.
Is Choose Love just another romantic comedy? Yes, though the presentation style adds some fun that would be otherwise missing. More importantly, it is a charming affair featuring a stellar cast with believable chemistry. Plus, there is enjoyment in getting to decide Cami’s fate and seeing where it takes you. I am going to rewatch this and choose another path.
"…Marano is perfect..."