Falling Inn Love – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Gabriela is a city girl working at a San Francisco design company. She has a boyfriend of some two years, Dean, who shows no sign of committing to their relationship.

The firm she is working for goes bust, and Dean’s ongoing commitment issues prompt her to end their union, Gabriela enters an online contest to win an inn in New Zealand.

Gabriela wins the contest and flies out to New Zealand, excited to start a new phase of her life. She finds the inn. It is a wreck. She meets a local, Jake. They work on the inn together.

Is it any good?: some may like it, but, truthfully, it is a made-for-television, romantic comedy by numbers, and not a superior one. The film throws up no surprises and will win no awards for originality.

The central pairing is okay, with just about enough chemistry to make the film work. It helps that the supporting cast is pretty strong. If you have a real soft spot for rom-coms you might like Falling Inn Love.

Spoiler territory: Gabriela Diaz (Christina Milian) is an architect working at a San Francisco design company, enVirona-Tech. She is passionate about an eco-friendly project she has to pitch and is fired up for the meeting. She prepares her pitch in the boardroom, waiting for the rest of the executives to arrive.

Half an hour after the meeting was scheduled to happen, Chad (Daniel Watterson), her boss, comes into the boardroom, the rest of the executives behind him. He tells her they are going in a different direction and will hear her pitch next week.

Later, Gabriela is out with he boyfriend of two-plus years, Dean (Jeffery Bowyer-Chapman). She broaches the subject of their relationship and how she wants him to have a closet at her place. Dean is not overly receptive to the idea. Gabriela talks to her best friend, Sage (Simone Walker) about it. Sage tells her to give Dean an ultimatum.

Gabriela goes to work the next day, but the building is not allowing anyone access. enViron-Tech has gone bust. She is out of a job. She meets up with Dean later. She suggests moving in together, so she can start her own company. Dean is totally unreceptive. Gabriela breaks up with him.

Back at home, a miserable, wine-drinking Gabriela, comes across a competition to win an inn in New Zealand. Bellbird Valley farm is available for free to whoever submits a winning four-hundred-word essay. Gabriela gets writing. The next morning a groggy Gabriela wakes up in front of her computer. She has won the competition.

An excited Gabriela packs up and heads to New Zealand, off to the small town of Beechwood Downs. After taking a flight and a couple of buses, she finds herself in rural New Zealand. Whilst trying to get a signal on her mobile phone, her case rolls away into the path of a truck. The driver, Jake (Adam Demos) helps Gabriela to retrieve her goods after the case comes open.

Gabriela is not taken by Jake’s rural charm, finding him a little uncouth, and refusing his assistance in finding the inn. She walks to the main town and meets the proprietors of the local cafe, Peter (Johnathan Martin) and Anaaki (Blair Strang). She asks for directions to the inn, much to the surprise of everybody in the cafe.

Anaaki tells her how to get to the inn. Gabriela makes her way to the inn and is shocked to come across a dilapidated building that barely matches the photographs that sold her the notion of entering the competition.

As she looks around the beat-up inn, there is a knock at the door. Charlotte (Anna Jullienne) comes and introduces herself. Charlotte runs the only bed and breakfast in Beechwood Downs, the Tea Rose House. Gabriela points out that the Bellwood is a bed and breakfast. Charlotte scoffs at the notion.

She casually, flippantly, mentions that it was Mabel Browning who used to run the inn, that her great-grandson had come up with the win-an-inn scam. Charlotte intimates that only a fool would have fallen for the scam. She tells Gabriela to give her a call when she gets over her desire to do up the inn.

The next day, Gabriela heads into town again, needing to get her plumbing sorted out. At the local hardware store, she meets Norman (William Walker), the store owner. She asks him if he knows of a contractor she could hire. Norman points her in the direction of Jake. Gabriela says it is okay and leaves.

Gabriela gets the old plans for Bellwood and goes to Peter and Anaaki’s cafe to begin planning an eco-friendly inn conversion. Committed to renovating the inn, Gabriela tells Dean via a video call that she is not coming back to the states for a few months. She also reminds him that they are broken up.

Gabriela goes to the local horticultural centre—Shoots and Sprouts—and meets Shelley (Claire Chitham), the owner. They become fast friends. She runs into Charlotte at the horticultural centre.

Charlotte invites her to tea that coming Sunday. Gabriela returns to the hardware store and meets Jake again, who is helping out at the store. She is looking to buy a spanner. He tries to tell her she needs a different size. Gabriela ignores his advise. Norman walks by and repeats Jake’s advise.

Gabriela goes to see Charlotte at her inn. Charlotte offers to buy the Bellwood inn. She tells Gabriela that she has dreamt of owning the inn since she was a child. Gabriela tells her she will think about it.

Gabriela runs into Jake again at the horticultural centre, even as she tries to avoid him. Shelley says she thinks that Jake has a crush on her. Gabriela poo-poos the idea, asking why he is single if he is so eligible. Shelly tells her that he has been single ever since his girlfriend died some three years before.

Doctor Corey (Arlo MacDiarmid) comes into the centre. He is a nervous wreck around Shelley. Shelley is oblivious to her effect on him. Gabriela points out that he likes her. Gabriela gets a call from her old boss, Chad.

He is starting a new company and might have a position for her. He hangs up before she can answer his question. She heads over to Peter and Anaaki’s place and gets pulled into a football party.

She meets Jake at the party again. They bond over a meal. Gabriela begins to sneeze. Peter and Anaaki tell her she is getting sick, but she says she is fine. The next day, she wakes up with a cold. All her newfound friends rally around to help her get well. While she is laid up, Jake renovates the kitchen.

She goes and finds him and asks him to be a partner in the renovation of the inn. He agrees. Whilst working on the building, they find old letters in the wall cavity. The letters are love letters from world war one. They become closer as they work on the inn.

Gabriela goes to Jake’s house. He tells her about his deceased girlfriend, Megan. They continue to bond over the renovation of the inn, finding out more about one another. Jake decides he is taking her out for the day. Gabriela and Shelley meet up, exchanging information about their burgeoning love lives.

Charlotte overhears them talking, and realises that Gabriela is thinking about staying in New Zealand. She takes Gabriela’s mobile and texts Dean, telling him to come and prove he loves her.

Gabriela and Jake go on a picnic on the beach and read the letters they found in the inn. They, indeed, are love letters, but the story is incomplete. They have a wonderful time at the beach.

Gabriela receives a call from Chad offering her a job doing her eco-project. Jake cannot understand why she would want to work for someone like Chad. They argue and decide just to work on the inn and nothing else. They finish the inn. Both are too stubborn to say they do not want to sell it.

They put the inn up for sale. Dean turns up in New Zealand, much to Gabriela’s surprise. Charlotte comes running, happy that Dean has come to take Gabriela away. She is not so happy when she finds out that he has also brought a real estate agent to buy the inn. Olive (Lucy Wigmore) has come to see the inn. She has the backing of a big Australian law firm.

Jake and Gabriela show Olive and Charlotte around the newly renovated inn. Olive makes an offer. Gabriela wants to discuss it with Jake. Jake takes the deal. Jake leaves the inn but is intercepted by Shelley. She tells him to tell Gabriela how he feels about her. Before he can do that, he and all of the town’s men are called to an emergency.

Charlotte’s inn is on fire. They all rush to go and put the fire out. Jake saves a man from the building. Gabriela tells Dean the next day that they are over. Gabriela goes to meet Jake and the solicitor to sign over the inn to Olive. Charlotte interrupts the meeting, telling them that she was the one who got Dean to come over.

Gabriela decides not to sell. Jake leaves the office telling her that he will let her know what he decides to do. Jake turns up the next day, having written a letter to her. It is a love letter. To her. They get together. The end.

Falling Inn Love is a rom-com by the numbers with absolutely no surprises. New Zealand is attractive enough and perfectly picturesque for the setting of the film. Written by Hilary Galanoy and Elizabeth Hackett and directed by Roger Kumble,

Falling Inn Love has very little to recommend it. The script is serviceable and does enough without ever reaching any great heights. The directing, likewise, is as safe as possible, with no unnecessary flourishes or anything that would separate Kumble’s work from anybody else.

Christina Milian as the central character of Gabriela is easy on the eye, and cute enough to be a rom-com face. Her acting is serviceable without being noteworthy or overly engaging.

Like I alluded to earlier, her chemistry with Adam Demos’ Jake is only lukewarm as opposed to sizzling. Demos has an easy charm and comes over naturally on screen.

Anna Jullienne is good as the desperate Charlotte, and Claire Chitham has a sweetness about her performance as Shelly that shows up Simone Walker’s Sage. There is a horrible, unfunny, yoga scene early in the film that is so lazy it is embarrassing, with JJ Fong playing a strict and irritable yoga instructor. It is terrible.

Falling Inn Love is a made for television movie and is okay as such. It is neither no better or worse than any of the hundreds of movies that get made year in, year out as easy afternoon fillers on the likes of Hallmark and channel Five.

Falling Inn Love is a ninety-eight-minute movie that you have on in the background around Christmas time whilst the family talk over it. Not a must-see.

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