By Marie-Renee Goulet
I never much cared for chick flicks. Romantic movies are pernicious. Almost all present an utterly unrealistic set of circumstances that create unattainable expectations by the consumers. The large majority of these movies unfold in a way that would never in a million years happen in real life. However, I sometimes indulge in light entertainment, even a tear-jerker. I thought I’d try a new release just to see where things are. When I was a kid, absent social media, movies were a significant influence. Some movies are terrible at representing an utterly impossible scenario that seems like a documentary to a 12-year-old and her possible future. I was taken aback by Finding You. This material adds to the already distorted reality that social media tweens and teens have to endure today.
Don’t get me wrong; I respect the actors’ effort with the material given them, and they were all charming enough for me to finish the film, but even the great Vanessa Redgrave couldn’t save it. As lovely as the young couple was, they couldn’t possibly make up for the lazy writing. What particularly angered me about this one and why I chose to write about it is how it sets up young teenage girls for eternal disappointments. This is an entirely chaste movie, so the studio and producers aimed to keep a PG rating, targeting the most youthful crowd possible. The same young ladies who see social media posts and believe they are honest, judging their own lives accordingly.
No one sets out to make a bad film; that may be true. When you are in production, you have to fly and get things done. But when you are writing the script, you have the time to set the movie up for success! Let’s start with the official movie description: “Violinist Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) travels to an Irish coastal village to begin a semester of studying abroad. At the bed-and-breakfast run by her host family, she encounters Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre), a handsome actor who’s filming another installment of his medieval movie franchise. As romance sparks between the unlikely pair, Beckett ignites a journey of discovery for Finley, transforming her heart, music, and outlook on life.”
Where do I start? You already know the movie’s ending from the opening scene where Sinclair fails to get into The Manhattan music conservatory for being technically perfect but not having the passion. See, you guessed it, and you’re not wrong. The first of twenty too many coincidences happen on her flight to the semester abroad, when, as she is placing a bag in the overhead bin in the cheap seats, a flight attendant invites her to sit in first class as there is a seat opened. Sure. that happens to all of us at least once. Right? I was on a half-empty flight once, and I asked the boarding agent if an upgrade was possible. I was young, well dressed, polite, and was given the grammatically correct version of: “We have a list of people we upgrade honey, and you ain’t on it.”
Then we find that the flight attendant placed her next to the Robert Pattinson (Twilight 2008 – 2012) of his day. In the film he stars in a cheesy version of the Games of Thrones series but in the book the film is based on, it’s vampires. Note to tweens: Actors who reach this level of fame do not fly commercial, and if they have to, the flight attendants will do everything they can to keep the surrounding seats clear. They won’t place a potential security threat next to them and certainly not on an overseas flight.
So, at this point, I’m thinking, you’re just old. Just … go with it. Finley lands in Ireland, and we find out that she will be living with the same host family her older brother stayed with a few years before. They now have bed and breakfast, and after a contrived accident, the hosts ask her to bring breakfast to the dining room for their only other guest. And yes, of course, there is Becket Rush. At this point, I want to throw a shoe at my TV. Couldn’t the writers have tried a little harder to make their encounters less ridiculous? He is flirtatious; she gives him the cold shoulder, turns him down multiple times. He persists because, you know, that is what Hollywood stars do with complete strangers. I wonder how many stalkers were created by such movies. Soon, he asks her to run lines, they get closer. We keep hitting every clichés, from the manipulative, overbearing stage dad (Tom Everett Scott), the homeless but loveable drunk (Patrick Bergin) who will teach Finley to play with passion, and the quest initiated by a diary left by her hero deceased brother. As part of her semester abroad, Finley is also assigned to keep company with the most notorious elderly lady (Redgrave). Of course, Finley will be instrumental in restoring this lady’s entire reputation and mending her broken relationship with her sister just before she dies.
There was one interesting storyline in the script, and it was skimmed over as it was just a device used to cause more grief to our young couple. I often wonder why successful actors who had options kept doing sequels with diminishing returns. Why risk your career doing a worse version of a movie you have done once or twice already? There are the obvious Brinks trucks of money being dumped around town, but did Harrison Ford need the paycheque from the fourth Indiana jones? Like… how much money does one need? I don’t always appreciate the length of the payroll attached to a franchise. They all depend on the stars to sign up so they can feed their families. Also, much like the Twilight franchise, the lead actors are made to pretend they are dating to boost the hype around the movie. This is how Finley will be “victimized” and thrown out to the wolves as she will eventually be portrayed as Becket’s fling in the tabloids.
All of this happens in less than three months, and there will be the typical sacrificial missed flight that may derail her life because it is the right thing to do. I mean, if you took all the clichés in existence and threw them in a blender, this is what you’d get. The writers present Finley as strong and driven, but all of her actions must be prompted, encouraged, or even forced on her throughout the film. She does not take a single action on her own.
Love and relationships are hard work, and there is a very fat line between reality and what youths are being fed here.
Marie’s appreciation for movies & TV began early in life as it offered escapes, laughter, and often an education. It sparked a love of photography, travel, and a general curiosity for the world and everything in it. Originally from Quebec City, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Trebas Institute in 1998 where John H. Foote was her Film History professor. The winds pushed her into a different professional field and on a few adventures around the world. The passion for film and storytelling in all forms continues. Marie lives in the Canadian Rockies.