Review by Sean Boelman
International films on streaming services are severely hit-or-miss; for every auteur-driven passion project, there’s a movie that’s content being pumped out for its own country and getting a platform here. Lisa Azuelos’s romantic comedy I Love America is certainly the latter, a film that is the very definition of unimpressive.
The movie follows a single, middle-aged Parisian woman who experiences a midlife crisis when she enters the dating pool in Los Angeles. Although the film is never explicitly autobiographical, the fact that the protagonist is a movie director named Lisa probably means that there is some personal angle to this — even if the extremely cliched script wouldn’t imply that.
Thankfully, the film is mercifully short at only an hour and forty minutes. The pacing is mostly breezy, which allows it to be pleasant even when it isn’t all that funny. Many of the gags in the movie are obvious — aiming for the low-hanging fruit in an attempt to get an easy chuckle rather than go for genuine wit.
While the title implies that this might have something insightful to say about the immigrant experience and assimilating to American culture, this is just a largely inconsequential romantic comedy. It isn’t even all that insightful about the modern dating scene in America, with just a few quips about dating apps and nothing more.
The characters in the film are nearly insufferable. Many of these midlife crisis movies are about selfish people learning to grow out of their shell and care for other people, and although the protagonist here does that, the character is so annoying that it’s hard to get over. And weren’t we past the days of having a stereotypically gay sidekick?
The only thing that manages to barely keep this movie afloat is its cast. Sophie Marceau is a gifted actress who has had a pretty well-respected career, and why she ended up in something trite like this, the world will never know. But she elevates it to something that is more than movie of the week material. Colin Woodell (of The Flight Attendant fame) is charming enough to be the love interest, even if he’s nothing more than eye candy.
Azuelos’s film is also severely lacking from a stylistic standpoint. For a standard streaming romantic comedy, it’s passable (if only just), but it’s clear that Azuelos wanted this to be something more. A few moments have some inspired soundtrack choices, but apart from that, its style is just ditziness, which gets old quickly.
I Love America isn’t really odious in any way, but it does feel like a waste of time. It’s a romantic comedy the likes of which you have seen dozens of times before, and apart from a solid performance from Sophie Marceau, there’s nothing about it that’s special.
I Love America streams on Prime Video beginning April 29.