Every streaming service, even the rerun-centric Roku-friendly ones, is moving into “original content.” So it’s no shock that Tubi (tubi.com) is joining the Smart TV remaking of the home-viewing landscape.
They’ve bought a Camilla Belle romance titled “10 Truths About Love” and are releasing it as their first “original.” So why not be the first to review it? On Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, MRQE and IMDb, I mean?
“10 Truths About Love” is a drab, sparks-free/laugh-phobic rom-com in a “Sex and the City” romance-columnist vein. Yes, that profession/story angle was old long before Sarah Jessica Parker took to overdressing for HBO. No, if there’s anything new to this well-worn plot device (love columnist left lovelorn), it doesn’t turn up here.
Belle plays Carina, a Brazilian-American “advice to the lovelorn” columnist in the Age of the “Listicle.” The film arrives on the streamer the same week “Entertainment Weekly,” one of the early champions of the bullet-point click-bait style (along with USA Today) ceases print publication.
Carina writes for one of those over-financed/over-officed online mags that only exist in the movies. Spark Life is its name, and she is its star writer. Nobody gets more readers when she’s writing about her long-term relationship with the hunk the readers only know as “T.”
That would be “Tom” (Karn Kalra). Carina is sure she’s about to get a proposal, after five years of dating, from this rising star lawyer.
David LaFontaine is Liam, the hotshot new hire at Spark who is naturally assigned to partner with Carina on the very day that Tom decides to dump her.
The movie is about him “helping” her win him back — because she’s “persistent,” and this sort of stalking by women is tolerated more than it is from men, at least in the movies. They’ll research and write “truths” about love as Liam helps her with “the game,” and schemes ways to throw her in Tom’s path and entice him back without him knowing it’s happening.
Carina isn’t accepting of the break because she’s the “expert” and figures “This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.” Liam is more “If somebody leaves me, they’ve made their point.” But sure, why not try? It could make a cute column.
“Cute” is all that this lifeless filler film from screenwriter Shannon Latimer and director Brian K. Roberts ever reaches for. And from the “meet cute” (which isn’t) to the third act we ALL know is coming, nothing lands.
The “10 Truths” are kind of online magazine profound — “Love can tempt you to hold on to the past,” and “Love can surprise you.”
You don’t say?
Romantic comedies that work have been in short supply in recent decades. It’s as if an entire industry and/or continent forgot how this is done. So there’s no dishonor in trying and failing, or half-trying as is the case here.
But the picture’s dull enough to make one ponder the fate of actresses in Hollywood.
Belle was a pretty child actress who aged into a beautiful teen, and then a runway-model gorgeous adult. I think I interviewed her when the indie drama “The Ballad of Jack and Rose,” which paired her with the great Daniel Day Lewis (as father and daughter) came out, and later chatted her up about her version of “When a Stranger Calls.”
The thing that struck me about her almost-colorless turn here is how little she’s changed. Same trademark bangs and eyebrows, voice basically as youthful as ever. And she’s on the backside of 30 — stuck in an image that hasn’t matured as the culture has.
The last thing most of us caught her in was “From Prada to Nada” over ten years ago. Bad luck, bad choices and a career and skillset that have stalled out in “ingenueland” leaves her trapped in movies like “10 Truths,” playing a character old enough to have life and career experience, but passive and naive and uninteresting, a character with “nothing there” that isn’t on the page.
And when there’s not much on the page, either…
It isn’t solely her fault “10 Truths” fails, but hers is the only “name” they spent money on. Lafontaine is a career bit player just happy to be here, playing a leading man but not charismatic enough to pull that off.
With more Americans looking at their out-of-whack COVID budgets, cutting cable and Dish and turning to free streamers, this is Tubi, Pluto, Roku & Co’s moment. But as Netflix has found, they’re going to have to spend money up and down the line to get movies anybody’s going to want to tune in and sit through their commercial breaks for.
“10 Truths About Love” plays as about eight truths under budget, a parsimonious rom-com that needed a better script, better director, funnier supporting players and co-equal leads who actually click.
Rating: unrated, squeaky clean
Cast: Camilla Belle, David LaFontaine
Credits: Directed by Brian K, Roberts, scripted by Shannon Latimer. A Tubi original
Running time: 1:30