There’s something to be said for the classic rom-com template. Many may find the standard 90-minute course of events tired, but there’s comfort to be found in the expected. Oftentimes, the films that flounder in this genre are the ones that attempt to break from the norm and do something, quite self-consciously, different. Landing somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, sandwiched between the cheese of Hallmark and the oh-so-serious romance comes Which Brings Me to You, the latest from Peter Hutchings, best known for the abysmal The Hating Game. Starring Lucy Hale — a stalwart in the genre as of late — as Jane and Nat Wolff as Will, the film takes place over a 24-hour period following a failed coat closet hookup.
After meeting at a wedding, the two horned-up celebrants begin their snogging sesh, which Will quickly shuts down in order to ask if they can “just talk.” Initially annoyed, Jane relents and the two spend the next night and day recounting their previous relationships. The details of their respective pasts are presented as flashbacks in which present-day Will and Jane are physically involved, observing the events as they are retold. Jane’s romances include a charming young man with severe mental health issues and a lawyer who she almost married. Will details his relationship with Eve, an older woman who he spent much of his time with in college before ghosting her. And so, things follow along that predictable rom-com avenue — conflict arises, Will and Jane split ways, etc., etc.
Which Brings Me to You succeeds, then, in its bid for old-school rom-com conventionality, but fails in its application of that formula because it so blatantly draws comparisons to much better films. Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, to cite an admittedly unfair point of comparison, represents one end of that aforementioned spectrum, its walk-and-talk, single-day framework bolstered by the rich chemistry between its leads. But Wolff and Hale lack that spark; their energy is of fantastic platonic friendship, and little else. Hutching’s film also doesn’t bring a lot of “com” to rom party; an entirely predictable karaoke scene, some light party-crashing, and a bevy of colorful strangers will elicit only pitying snorts from even a generous audience. And this is ultimately the film’s fatal flaw. Hutching’s attempts to layer the film with dramatic, emotional moments results in a downer vibe that isn’t balanced out with comedy in the way the material demands. While not a saccharine cornball mess like the worst of these kinds of projects, Which Brings Me to You also doesn’t do much of anything, and certainly nothing as poignant or moving as it believes with its marginally off-kilter conceit. In a genre as saturated as the rom-com, the worst product to deliver — especially in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day and the glut of comparable content that comes with it — is a forgettable meh of a movie. Which brings me to…
DIRECTOR: Peter Hutchings; CAST: Lucy Hale, Nat Wolff, Britne Oldford, John Gallagher Jr.; DISTRIBUTOR: Decal; IN THEATERS: January 19; RUNTIME: 1 hr. 38 min.