“It doesn’t matter,” a character declares about a returned love interest in Evan Oppenheimer’s incredibly banal A Room With a View flirtation, Lost in Florence; a line which produced one of the few laughs in the film; a line which could be drenched in knowing irony and self-awareness, though almost-definitely isn’t.
The quiet streets of Florence shimmer quite beautifully before being interrupted by the loud American sports drama the film truly is at heart (if we give it the compliment of suggesting the film possesses that particular organ). The love story underneath the entirely vacuous ridiculously-masculine dialogue of teamwork and determination and whatever else the magnificently on-the-nose script hurls at the audience – glimmers like a delightful Nora Ephron film waiting to be picked up.
When Lost in Florence isn’t playing as a tone-deaf Lifetime movie, the film is not without certain pleasures. Alessandra Mastronardi as always radiates charm and infuses the coldness of the main love story with a sense of warmth. Stana Katic too remains an effervescent presence, managing a lovely subtle performance despite being given an even less-developed character than the others. It also cannot be denied that the DP captures Florence with an exquisite grace the rest of the film is not deserving of – but from which it benefits greatly.
And yet the eternal stream of cliches – verbally and with regards to the horrible score – plague the film and allow for little joy when we are confronted with the mind-numbing dullness of the sport scenes. This Florentine sport – teased as being so incredibly dangerous – manages to be even more boring than the sex scenes. It doesn’t help that the lead actor lacks charisma in such a manner that I am honestly surprised that his name is not Chad, and has not – to my knowledge – appeared in an early 2000s teen dramedy from The WB (not that that would necessarily be a bad thing…).
It seems impossible to accept the idea that sex scenes – sex scenes starring the devastatingly beautiful Alessandra Mastronardi, no less – could be boring: yet Oppenheimer manages to make these scenes breathtakingly unsexy by taking the time to have Mastronardi be mansplained the intricacies of American football by the soulless protagonist Not-Chad.
Lost in Florence, one should make clear, is reliably entertaining fluff – there is, after all, always a beautifully human pleasure in romances. The film also provokes laughter, intentionally or not, solidly throughout. Connecticut will always be an amusing punchline; Katic’s exasperation raises a few laughs, as does Mastronardi’s gift for timing; the horrifically stereotypical English ‘lad’ characters and the cringe-inducingly silly American tourists are so splendidly misjudged I let out a dry chuckle a couple of times.
This film made me yearn for the quiet majesty of Allen’s To Rome With Love – a beautiful film underrated by most, included, at first, by myself. And having seen a great sports drama rom-com in the form of the Finnish masterpiece The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki the previous month – I was struck by how great this film could have been with a better script and director.
Whilst there are enchanting glimmers of a charming Florentine romance within this laughably-vacuous sports drama – the film buries it under a layer of schmaltz even a hopeless romantic – nor two divine actors – can successfully break through.