Netflix’s First Frustrated Interactive Rom-Com – Variety Pack

A twenty-something woman, unsure of her personal and professional life, must choose between three men in this emotionally empty, choose-your-own-adventure.

Back in 2018 with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix introduced interactive features as a way for viewers to take charge of the movie, using a console to select various story paths. The filmmakers provided choices that branched off from pivotal points within the narrative that led to a set of conclusions that either worked, eventually triggering the end credits, or did not, prompting the viewer to an earlier point to try again. More shows using this style soon followed in other genres: the scripted comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend,” the animated special “We Lost Our Human,” and the reality series “Ranveer vs. Wild.” with Bear Grylls”.

This innovative concept is now being applied to the growing collection of cynical yet sentimental romantic comedy features with “Choose Love”. Director Stuart MacDonald (“The Perfect Pairing”) and writer-producer Josan McGibbon (“Runaway Bride”) focus on an indecisive, career-driven woman who must choose between three suitors from her past, present, and future who plead for her romantic affections. . Since this type of film has not yet accepted polygamy as a viable solution, we are supposed to make the choice for her, and guide her to ultimate happiness. Yet what each of these journeys inadvertently reveals is that our heroine is rarely given much opportunity for the introspection essential to her character’s clarity, let alone the grace to explore her own identity outside of her relationships with men.

Cami (Laura Marano) doesn’t feel quite right. She lives in Los Angeles in a comfortable home with her sister (Megan Smart), brother-in-law (Benjamin Huetjes) and young niece (Neil Fisher) nearby, but wants to start a family of her own. She has a steady job as a recording engineer, but would like greater technical challenges and a big salary increase. And she has an attractive and caring boyfriend of three years, Paul (Scott Michael Foster), who she nervously suspects is about to pop the question. Unsure of her future and with commitment continuing to weigh on her, Cami consults a psychic (Jack Drew) who tells her that there are other suitors soon to enter the picture: Jack (Jordie Weber), a photographer/hippie she dated in high school, and Rex (Avan Jogia), The rock and roll singer who can make her career ambitions a reality.

The user interface is fairly straightforward. Kami constantly breaks the fourth wall, “Fleabag” style, addressing the audience when her conscience is in crisis mode to alert us of an imminent decision that must be made. In the first chapter, we are given two choices that, although different, both feed into similar next sequences. It isn’t until Cami has a vivid dream that her trio of potential lovers clearly tells her to choose, splitting our choices for her into radically different ways. For people who are just as indecisive as the heroine, this is a lot of pressure to get to the end credits or find themselves stuck in a terrible, never-ending cycle of second-guessing.

From the meta-themes that focus on controlling fate and fate to the characters and their struggles, everything hovers at the surface level. It’s hard to be fully immersed in Kami’s world because problem-solving in the movie requires our active participation. The guys are one-dimensional at best and are just used to enhancing her arc. Although Goggia, Foster and Weber share a flirtatious chemistry with the ebullient Marano who starred in The Royal Treatment, they all struggle to elevate the dull material. Rex’s catchy song, “All I Want Is You,” caused total damage by taking Harry Styles-inspired bop and turning it into a smooth, John Mayer-esque reject jam. Sadly, this isn’t a choice we’re consulted about, but Cami is making it herself – which makes us wonder if she’s right for her job.

Surprisingly, even our heroine doesn’t get much attention in every story path. We are told what her ambitions and aspirations are rather than showing them in any insightful way. We are rewarded with richer tricks and fun when we choose deceitful and deceitful things for her to do, such as lying by omission, cheating by hugging Jack, and not being honest with herself or her perspective partners. When you’re separated from one lover to another, there are choices left unpresented that will result in a vested emotional impact for us and the characters we control.

Just like the way love works in real life, there are no specific, correct answers to determine that gently guide us to a happy ending. And befitting our cinematic avatar’s experimental bent in exploring “what-if” relationships, at the end of our journey we are given the option to remake our choices. In theory, it’s an interesting experience, but operationally, all it offers is one disappointing solution after another. These filmmakers have difficulty mastering their trick-or-treating settings into anything but frustrating and often unsatisfying conclusions. This title urges us to choose love, but the audience must choose not to live with it.

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