Netflix’s ‘Falling Inn Love’ Has All the Ingredients for a Frothy Rom-Com
Christina Milian, the singer and actress who first made herself known in the early 2000s with sexy hits like “Dip It Low” and “Between Me & You,” is now seeking something more fulfilling, onscreen, at least, in the rom-com “Falling Inn Love.” Quite apropos, this film was helmed by Roger Kumble, a director who made his feature debut in that same era with the steamy teen drama “Cruel Intentions.” The title “Falling Inn Love” alone lets the viewer know what he or she is getting into, a frothy tale of a woman experiencing romance in or around a quaint house used for lodging. In this latest Netflix offering to make use of the Hallmark formula, Milian stars as Gabriela Diaz, a thirty-something woman who decides to jump off the “corporate hamster wheel” and take a leap that brings her all the way to New Zealand.
Like most of these type of films, “Falling Inn Love” starts off in a major city. Gabriela gets some satisfaction from her job designing self-sustainable housing, but she would get more of it if the overgrown frat boys she works with would actually listen when she pitches. None of this matters when the firm goes under, an event that leads Gabriela to shake up other things in her life, and she breaks up with her longtime boyfriend, Dean (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman). Good riddance, as this is a guy who manages to be both controlling and commitment-phobic. But the biggest change comes after she makes the wine-fueled decision to enter an essay contest in which the winner receives an inn in a remote part of New Zealand. The very next morning, she wakes up to an email proclaiming her the new owner of her own piece of paradise, and almost immediately she’s on a plane to the other side of the world.
Predictably, the inn isn’t what Gabriela expected, as it’s rundown and needs quite a bit of work. Fortunately, this small town has a handsome and single contractor, Jake (Adam Demos). Unfortunately, he and Gabriela mix like oil and water during their first half a dozen meetings or so, but a little irritation never stood in the way of a good rom-com romance. The unlikely pair end up deciding to team up to flip the inn, and, surprise, surprise, hearts end up flipping during the process. But soon forces seem to be pulling Gabriela back to San Fran, and she finds herself having to make a decision.
Those unfamiliar with NZ will be surprised to discover that the land is lush for romance. Gabriela and Jake find themselves doing things like tramping, which she discovers is just walking in an extremely shallow stream. There’s also a goat, Gilbert, in the mix, as well as a parcel of WWI-era love letters found inside of the wall in the inn.
Again, this is an extremely light and airy film. It doesn’t get to deep when it comes to character development; for example, Gabriela has a best friend in San Francisco, Sage (Simone Walker) who’s dealing with some issues, but she disappears early on without seeing her problems resolved. Shelly (Claire Chitham), however, Gabriela’s new bestie in NZ, does have a charming storyline, and Anna Jullienne gives it all as Charlotte, a rival inn owner who goes through a gamut of emotions.
“Falling Inn Love” begins streaming Aug. 29 on Netflix.