Tag Archives: romance fantasies

Fantasy Based

Finding You

by George Wolf

Here’s the perfect marriage of a formulaic, instantly forgettable title with a formulaic, instantly forgettable film.

Talented violinist Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) fails her audition at the Manhattan music conservatory due to a “lack of passion” in her playing. She thinks a change of scenery will ease the sting of rejection, so it’s goodbye to New York, hello to a semester studying abroad in Ireland (where she’ll go to class exactly one day).

Before wheels up, though, a flight attendant offers Finley an empty seat in First Class. I’ll pause now for laughter.

Welcome back. And wouldn’t you know, that seat is right beside Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre), international movie star heartthrob! Of course Finley’s put off by his arrogance, and the meet cute becomes a completely unconvincing setup for a nonstop flight to Young Adult romance fantasyland.

In the quaint Irish village of Cardington, Finley’s host family (which includes the irresistible Saoirse-Monica Jackson from Derry Girls) runs a B&B, and guess who else is staying there?


Incorrect. It’s that obnoxious Beckett! He’s in town to film the latest Dawn of the Dragon flick, reprising his role as “Steel Markoff” and his tabloid-friendly romance with co-star Taylor Risdale (Katherine McNamara)! But Beckett seems eager to break from the grip of his pushy manager/father (Tom Everett Scott), and fate sure does seem to like throwing Finley and Beckett together, so…

No! “We can’t get involved!” “It would never work!”

Writer/director Brian Baugh (adapting Jenny B. Jones’s 2011 YA novel “There You’ll Find Me”) has a resume heavy on faith based projects, and Finding You does some very similar preaching to its own choir. Though Baugh manages some amusing wink-winks at those dragon-based franchises, there’s no such self awareness to be found for his own audience.

How the story is told doesn’t matter, as long as that story is a wholesome PG-rated romance (no tongues, kids!) with plenty of rolling Irish hills (they are gorgeous) and even more chances for our girl Finley to be magical.

Can that musical hobo Seamus (Patrick Bergin) bring out the passion in Finley’s playing? Can she step dance into town and finally end the decades long feud between mean Mrs. Sweeney (Vanessa Redgrave!) and her sister, while also coming to terms with her own brother’s memory and helping Beckett to be his own man?

Will she ever remember to go to class?

Daydream Believer


by George Wolf

According to my crack research staff (i.e. the twentysomething woman who was nice enough to talk with me after the show), Anna Todd’s After source novels began as fan fiction for the band One Direction.

That actually makes some sense, as Fifty Shades began as Twilight fan fiction, After‘s playbook is Fifty Shades lite (Fifteen Shades?) and I guess this is what we do now.

The smoldering Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin – Harry Potter’s Tom Riddle) is a college student who’s “complicated, be careful!” Incoming freshman Tessa (Josephine Langford, showing moments of potential) isn’t careful, and in an instant is trading in her high school boyfriend and Mennonite-ready frocks for Hardin and one of his multiple Ramones t-shirts.

We’ve all seen this before, and so has Todd, whose story (adapted by Susan McMartin) checks off all the obligatory boxes for what is less a cohesive narrative and more a series of daydreams connected by desperately sensitive pop songs not by the Ramones.

Director Jenny Gage, whose All This Panic mined genuine young adult emotion, is powerless to shape this material into anything more than plug-and-play emptiness.

So after the slo-mo bad boy glances, the disbelief in love, the emotional moment in the rain, the ex who assures her what she did to him was fine, the assurances that someone finally sees her specialness and more, we get to the voiceover essay reading.

Of course we do, and when that essay tells us how deeply one character’s life has been changed by the other, it means nothing unless we’ve been shown some reason, any reason, to believe it.