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Choose Love

Great job, handsome boyfriend, endless supply of mustard sweaters, Cami has it all…or does she? Faced with three suitors and seemingly endless choices, Cami’s life is in the viewer’s hands in Netflix’s latest interactive rom-com Choose Love.


Who among us hasn’t yelled at the screen when a lead character does something frustrating or a love interest is lying to our hero? But did this power lead to a satisfying viewing experience or leave our reviewers wanting more…choice?


A solid pink and green background, with a circular still image from the film in the foreground. It shows Cami and the love interest Jack, appearing to be leaning in for a passionate kiss



Sasha


When Netflix released Bandersnatch as an interactive horror film, I gave it a miss, being a certified wimp. Enter Choose Love: the same choose-your-own-adventure concept but in rom-com form. Perfect. The film begins with Cami visiting a tarot reader, who warns her that life is about to get complicated. Feeling as though something is missing, she is anxious to know if she’s on the right path with her steady job and steady boyfriend Paul.


We watch as Paul and Cami finish each other’s sentences, but I found they lacked chemistry; they were more like siblings or best friends. This was the perfect foundation for me to explore her other two options. Her high-school boyfriend Jake reappears on the scene, having spent years traveling and doing charity work. Yes, he does have a crystal pendant necklace. As an audio engineer, Cami has been largely relegated to advertising clients, so when Rex, a British rock star is in the building, he reminds her of everything she has wanted to achieve. Impressed with her skills and honesty, he decides to work with her, and offers her supporting vocals on his new song. I found that Rex’s character was the most compelling, as his lack of history with Cami created more intrigue, and the way he aligns with her childhood dream of becoming a singer and producer brought the feel-good factor.


With all three options for Cami’s lover introduced, I found myself disappointed. I had unknowingly expected Cami’s character to be bisexual, broadening her ‘options’ and giving another twist to her choices. But with ‘Choose Love’ sounding like a graphic you might read on a mass-produced t-shirt during pride month, perhaps I dodged a bullet. Overall, I found that Cami’s character bordered on a pastiche of Jess from New Girl, multiple variations of mustard knits with leather skirts ticked off more ‘cute but quirky’ cliches. The breaking of the fourth wall didn’t bring me out of the story as much as the physicality of the acting. Neither did the interactive element, as having just seconds to choose before a random selection was made meant that I couldn’t get lost in thinking it over.


The storyline I chose escaped a narrative arc, with Cami facing very little conflict before her happy ending. In fact, I hadn’t realised that the final scene was in fact, the final scene, until I had the option to exit to the credits. I enjoyed the novelty of this format but the lack of dimension meant that sometimes I was laughing at the screen rather than with it. This is one to watch with a group of friends, and a drinking game/bingo card, or not at all. Suggestions to get you started: Cami rolls her eyes, Paul reads her mind, Jake mentions a charity, Rex winks. Thank me later.



Cami (a white woman with wavy, brown, shoulder-length hair shares a toast of champagne with love interest Rex, who has tousled, bleach blonde hair and is wearing  a shirt which shows his chest. They are looking into eachother's eyes.




Georgia G


Episode-meets-Bandersnatch starring Scott Michael Foster was a concept I was 100% here for, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to my (maybe too high) expectations. Not that I was expecting it to be a good movie per say, but I expected it to commit to the ridiculousness of the premise. Instead it fell flat, with the different choices not having strong enough emotional resolutions.


In Choose Love, Cami (Laura Marano), an audio engineer who wants to be a singer, has three potential love interests. However, all of them have something wrong with them. Paul has absolutely no chemistry with Cami, while Rex has the worst British accent I’ve ever heard in my life, which makes it impossible to take any of his scenes seriously. Then there’s Jack, who felt utterly pointless as a character. His humanitarian efforts are probably supposed to seem noble, but they just make him seem pretentious (Taking pictures of disadvantaged children? How revolutionary.) There is the option to go solo, which is appreciated, but means that all of the decisions made prior to that feel entirely meaningless. There are effective ways to have a character choose herself over her love interests (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is maybe the best recent example) but Choose Love can’t quite pull it off.


The problem with interactive stories like this is that the main character ends up not having a personality at all, because she has absolutely no desires - we control every decision she makes. While Laura Marano was the best part of this movie, really committing to the camp possibilities of the film, Cami ended up feeling more like a presenter than a fully fleshed out character.


I really wanted to love this movie; after all, you get to choose Cami’s outfits and you’re given full control over her choices- what more could you need? As it turns out, having full control doesn’t make for very entertaining viewing. While Stuart McDonald and Josann McGibbon had the difficult job of coming up with multiple endings, none of the ones I saw (I originally wanted to watch every ending, but couldn’t get through a lot of it) felt like satisfying narrative conclusions. Unfortunately the fun of the choose-your-own-adventure format fails to translate into a decent rom-com.




All three love interests stand in front of Cami. From left to right - Jack, Rex, and Paul.  Jack smiles, Rex looks confused, and Paul looks annoyed.
2/3 of these love interests seem like the same man in a different font...



Florence


As someone who got hooked on choice games at a young age, I find myself being pretty forgiving of the choose your own adventure genre. I’ve come to understand that it’s really difficult to deliver on a piece of media that offers players freedom of choice whilst not compromising the story. The option of multiple endings inevitably means that at least one of the stories is going to be a letdown. Choose Love is no exception to this.


Choose Love is an interactive film that gives viewers the opportunity to control the love life of protagonist Cami, as she decides between three potential suitors: her long-term boyfriend, an old high school flame, and a rockstar played by Avan Jogia. Whilst I just spoke about my relative leniency towards interactive, multiple choice media, I cannot forgive or understand Jogia’s character. They made him blonde and British. This directorial decision is the closest Choose Love gets to being experimental, but I hold no admiration for it. Jogia manages to overcome this predicament and still be the most appealing choice, but this has little to do with his acting, and everything to do with how dull the other two are. Cami’s character is similarly uninspiring. On the one hand, a cookie-cutter “Mary Sue” type is ideal for a romcom as it leaves the possibilities open for viewers/players. Everyone wants this woman. But on the other hand, having a character whose life seems to work out perfectly regardless of her decisions makes the stakes very low. I think it would’ve been fun if there’d been more options to mess things up for her - I don’t think this was the vibe Netflix was going for, with the title literally commanding viewers to choose love, but if I want to ruin this woman’s life, I should be able to!


My desire to be a menace aside, there’s always a place for stories where everything turns out okay no matter what. Choose Love is lighthearted, silly and stupid. I don’t believe anyone involved in the release of this film thought people would watch it and think it was good, it was made to be laughed at. I had a nice enough time playing through it, and the escape room employee shooting her shot with Paul genuinely made me laugh. However, I didn’t really care about the characters. Paul, in particular, was not fleshed out enough for me to even really consider him an option for Cami. This felt like a missed opportunity for drama, as the protagonist already being in a serious relationship at the start of the film seems like the perfect set-up for chaos to ensue. At least in my playthrough, there wasn’t really any of this because all of the characters are surprisingly emotionally mature/spineless (depending on how you choose to interpret their limp responses to rejection). This is probably a good message to send to the predominantly (I assume) teenage audience watching this, but I wanted them to kick off.


All in all, Choose Love is…fine? It doesn’t really make the most of its interactive elements, but get some friends together and you’ll have a perfectly inoffensive time clicking through it.







Edited by Sophie Chapman-Smith.




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