This Little Love of Mine is an extremely gentle romantic drama. In fact, it’s so gentle that, if you’re not careful, it may just lull you right to sleep. I realize that sounds like an insult, but it’s not entirely meant as one. Written and directed by women, the movie is mostly free of the misogynist tropes that usually litter romantic movies—though, sadly, the same can’t be said of colonialist and paternalist ones. There aren’t really any true villains, and the driving message of the movie is to find your true self, your true passion, and your true home. Look, if you’re someone who has ever said, I liked the movie because it wasn’t your usual rom-com, then you should probably take a pass on this one. (And also reconsider how you talk about romance in general, but that’s a discussion for another day.) But, if romance is your go-to visual comfort and you’re looking for something with bad-but-in-a-tolerable-way acting, an adequate but entirely uncomplicated script, and perfectly blessed-enough-in-bland-way faces to while away 90 minutes, you could do far worse than This Little Love of Mine. It’s all about managing your expectations, my friends.
The movie begins with Laura (Saskia Hampele) waking up in her apartment with half her bed covered with paperwork and Chip (Liam McIntyre) waking up shirtless in a hammock on the beach. Then Chip waves cheerfully to someone as runs to the ocean for a morning swim. Meanwhile, Laura jumps in an elevator where another woman congratulates her on getting the Peterson account (there is always Peterson account in movies like this one), which she’s sure means they’ll make Laura a partner now. Laura super duper hopes so because there are lots of changes she’d like to make, like getting the woman in the elevator the raise she so deserves. So selfless! Laura really wants to review the Peterson contract one last time just to be sure it’s all okay, but she can’t because it’s already signed. So detail-oriented! This lays out pretty much all we need to know about Laura’s character: she’s diligent, caring, ambitious, modest, and capable. Oh, and she has a necklace that she considers her lucky charm, which will be extremely important later on. I can’t tell you how because of spoilers, but trust me, you probably already have it figured out. Chip on the other hand is kind, laid back, and loyal.
How will these two kinda sorta opposites ever come together? Well, it just so happens that Laura was childhood best friends with Chip when they both lived in Sapphire Cove, a small tropical island, exact location never disclosed. Laura moved away when she was twelve and lost touch with Chip, but now Graham Findley (Martin Portus) , International Business Blah-de-Blah and Chip’s grandfather, needs Laura (and only Laura) to convince Chip to take over as CEO of Findley Muckety Muck Enterprises when Graham retires in a couple of weeks. Obviously, this can only be done in person and obviously this is the final hurdle Laura needs to clear so that she can become a partner at her firm and enact all her plans for more Local Business Development. Sure, this is exactly how life works.
Oh, by the way, Laura is engaged to Owen (Craig Horner), but we know he’s not The One for her because he wears his hair slicked back and wants to postpone their wedding (again) for a work retreat. If this were a different kind of movie Owen would do barrels of cocaine, frequent strip clubs, and swear constantly, but it’s this kind of movie, so Owen is a fine enough person, but just not fine enough for Laura.
Laura goes off to Sapphire Cove—which sounds like it’s a place on a Soap Opera—wearing high heels even though she must know that to get there requires a flight in a prop plane followed by a boat ride. I guess it’s just so she can have a fish out of water kind of re-meet-cute with Chip. He, for the record, does not have slicked back hair. Instead, he is all about fun and adventure, as evidenced by his floppy-always-kinda-wet-beachy hair. Chip is extremely happy to see Laura again, but he has absolutely zero interest in signing the contract to become the CEO of the company. Ooooh, MILD DRAMA! He’s far too busy building houses for people who couldn’t otherwise afford one, and never wants to leave the island. For the most part, we never see or hear from any of these people in need of houses. They are just the faceless, voiceless other. Always a really great sign when it comes to charity work. In fact, almost the only people on the island we ever see are those who stay or work at the very fancy hotel that’s owned and operated by Findley Enterprises, which is an…interesting perspective.
Side note: the movie was filmed entirely in Australia. Also, all the actors in this movie are actually Australian (which sounds like the name of a show or a band), but speak with American accents. Why? I don’t know. I’m guessing something about international marketability, but it feels like a strange choice and a lot of unnecessary work. You should also know that the acting is the kind of bad where it’s so bad that almost seems like they’re not acting acting anymore, which makes it feel like maybe it’s good when you’re watching it? It’s very nuanced and difficult to explain, but you know it when you see it. The writing is adequate enough to get the job done. It feels script that people memorized from end to end.
After they tussle over how she’s a big city workaholic and he’s just hanging around not challenging himself, Laura and Chip come to an agreement that for every fun thing she does—like horseback riding or snorkeling—he will read one page of the contract. Uh, not to demean Chip’s intelligence, but perhaps he should have a lawyer look over the contract? I’m guessing it’s not written in plain English? Oh, right, it just so happens there isn’t any lawyer in Sapphire Cove, meaning that people must leave the island for any kind of legal advice. Goodness, I wonder why they would drop that kind of information into the plot? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Laura is a lawyer?
Meanwhile, in a subplot, their childhood friend Gem (Lynn Gilmartin), who is Assistant Manager of the hotel, is planning Graham Findley’s big birthday bash and it must be perfect because her promotion to General Manager is kind of riding on it. Also, Gem is an extremely Australian sounding name. The only Jem that most Americans know is Jem and the Holograms. So, back to Laura and Chip who go snorkeling and horseback riding and to visit Gem’s parents who just so happen to live in a house that Chip built with his own hands. They are the only people we meet who Chip helped out by building a house. They apparently had some money troubles when they moved back to the island. I imagine that they got caught up in some Bernie Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme, but this is never confirmed.
Anyway, you can likely guess what’s going to happen in this movie right down to people telling each other that home “isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” I bet if you listen hard enough you can even hear the plucky, generic rom-com music that underscores nearly every scene. (I have no idea what emotion the music is trying to evoke in viewers, but it never fails to bring me to the brink of a murderous rage.) There are going to be misunderstandings, heartfelt conversations, nostalgic remembrances, changes of heart, Big Realizations, and Life Changing Decisions. But at the same time it’s all going to be so mellow that five minutes after the credits roll that if you, say, had to write a review, you’d be grasping to remember what the hell the movie was about.