Love Happens, the debut from Liza Rafael is a solid little comedy about the romantic and career pressures placed on a person. Yet, by needlessly pushing the narrative during a perplexing final act, we are left frustrated despite great efforts from lead Caitlin Burt.
Small town journalist Jessica Collins (Caitlin Burt) is ready to take her career to the next level, but her plans get sidetracked when strange disturbances enter her social life. She doesn’t think much about these interactions until she realizes that something is happening to ALL the men around her, and she has to investigate.
Hidden deep within Love Happens is a great little story of the pressures of life, be it from those expecting you to further your career to be the one to make the first move to leave their hometown so that another can also do so. Yet the main focus is the pressure on a woman to find someone and get married and have that happy little family before they are too old. This is where we find Jessica, and while she seems frustrated with her current situation, she isn’t the type to be propelled to make that leap.
Yet, sadly this low budget film is hindered by some of the utterly terrible acts from its cast and a finale that truly beggars belief and not in a good way. Perhaps it is because of the relatively short 78 minutes running time, but for around 45 minutes, Love Happens does a good enough job to reel you in. With an affable lead, we are keen to follow her through what she is going through. Be it the foolish affair or the attempts to get her big piece made to give her that break she and seemingly everyone around her wants.
But that final act throws almost all of it away in the bluntest way possible. Character decisions are thrown out the window, and as the sci-fi elements try to creep in, they don’t hit as well as they should. So when we get to that shocking moment, it falls flat, though that is primarily due to the terrible acting on show in the film. It is a head-scratcher of the last 15 minutes; as said, it was all working well enough, and it just seems pointless to go the way it does.
Writer/Director Liza Rafael tries to hammer home the point of her film when she didn’t need to, the context was there for us all to see, and it was working. Unfortunately, by going the direction that she does, she almost negates all of the excellent work done beforehand, which is a shame, but happily not a disaster. Honestly, it would be a ride to detail everything in that final act, yet we try to remain spoiler-free, so just watch and experience it.
Caitlin Burt is the shining light in Love Happens (except for those last 10 minutes). While some of the cast either overact or underact their heads, she keeps it steady and provides some much-needed balance to the film. If it weren’t for her, there would have been an honest struggle to get through the opening alone. She also has some great comedic timing and brings a great presence to the film.
However, the little things in her performance that enhance the film, the little movements and facial reactions that highlight a strength that should see her stretch out into more notable roles. Equally, Meradi Ramirez does some solid work here as Victoria, and when combined with Burt, we have a duo that feels authentic in the performances. Their natural chemistry brings you into the film, and when the film begins to find some issues, the duo returns together to anchor the film again.
Sadly, small moments stick out like a sore thumb, such as possibly the worst and flattest looking beers that have ever been put on screen, add in other props, and the lack of anyone at a wedding, and that low budget feel seeps right into your mind. Also, the news channel office is simply a room with random desks that distracts a tad. Although, this is a low budget film after all, and you can’t expect the production design to be overly great. Just celebrate that there are some sets, and there isn’t a lengthy ice hockey match montage. Though those poor customers with those beers…
In the end, Liza Rafael’s Love Happens would have benefitted from either being another 20 minutes longer to flesh out the characters and subplot stories a bit better or to be 20 or so minutes shorter to fine-tune what works so well. Again, a watchable film. Just don’t expect the world and try not to judge that finale overly.
Love Happens is showing at the Queen’s World Film Festival until the 4th July, watch it here
For more information about the festival click here
For more of our coverage of the festival please check out our reviews below:
I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity. That would bring in more costs. So, for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self sufficient. Well enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…
You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here! We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.
Thanks for reading, every view helps us out more than you would think (we have fragile egos). Until next time.