The soccer isn’t bad in “See You Soon.” But then, it’s not really about soccer.
The Saint Petersburg locations are striking in all the most travelogue ways.
But the romance at the heart of this Russo-American “Affair to Remember” is tepid bathwater, blase and lacking sparks.
This slow-footed melodrama only truly comes to life with a nice twist ending, although even the “lovers together at last” bit has less life than the set-up and “stunt” it takes to make it happen.
There is polish here. Seeing veteran composer Mark Isham’s (“Invincible,” “The Mist” and TV’s “Once Upon a Time”) name in the opening credits suggests they had the money to make this something special, even with a first-time feature director on the payroll.
But co-writer and co-star Jenia Tenaeva didn’t have enough novel ideas, warm touches or wit for the mirthless, joyless script. And she’s model-dull on camera as the love interest of Aussie-playing-American Liam McIntyre‘s soccer star.
McIntyre plays ball-hogging, show-boating American soccer star Ryan Hawkes, an arrogant $50 million man with British soccer clubs salivating to nab him from America’s Major League Soccer.
We see him propose to his vapid, social-climber fiance (Poppy Drayton) in a public post-win celebration. That’s where his agent, played by Harvey Keitel, gets off one of the only three half-funny lines in the picture.
“There goes half your pension, mooooronnnn!” agent Billy sings to himself.
Over in Mother Russia, Lana (Tanaeva) is enduring a bad marriage to an abusive brute (Oleg Taktarov) who looks to be oh, twice her age. All she wants is to get their soccer-loving/English-learning boy Danny out of that life.
Bad karma is in the air before kismet arrives. We’ve seen Ryan blow off a Make-a-Wish-Foundation hospital visit. NOBODY blows off Make-a-Wish. Sure enough, drinking and checking their “blowing up social media” status with the fiance leads him to wreck his Audi R8 (EVERY movie has an Audi in it, these days).
His knee’s a mess, his English club overtures end, his own club is suing and the wedding is off as Ryan crawls into a bottle. And then another.
Maybe a Mediterranean cruise will help him get his head on straight. Maybe on the ship where Lana is the lone bartender.
He flirts, but she won’t flirt back, as that’s not allowed.
“You nidd to stop followink me. I vill get in trouble!”
“I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”
Maybe she can, you know, teach him the language?
“You? You want to learn Russian?
“Yeah, I hear they have a very cheery outlook on life.”
The standard screen romance ingredients don’t blend well here –walks on the beach, nights in a villa, that delightful “getting a makeover for the big date” montage that is anything but a delight.
McIntyre’s never really at ease in the charmer coming-on-strong department, and not to be brutal about it, but first-screen-role Tenaeva has all the warmth of a Bond villain.
Still, it finishes with traces of the charm that probably got this financed in the first place. If it had shown up in the first act instead of the third, “See You Soon” (insipid title) might not have been “Not if I see you first.”
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content
Cast: Liam McIntyre, Jenia Tenaeva, Poppy Drayton and Harvey Keitel
Credits: Directed by David Mahmoudieh, script by Jenia Tanaeva, Mike Cestari, . A Vertical release.
Running time: 1:47