Netflix’s new interactive film, Choose Love, gives its viewers the option to select the outcome for its central character, Cami Conway. At the heart of new-age storytelling is an age-old rom-com. At the very beginning, a tarot card reader tells Cami that she will have to choose between three suitors. While Cami was in a relationship with Paul, she was quite surprised by the possibilities indicated by the cards. Gradually, Cami realized that the prediction was indeed right, and all of a sudden, she had to make tough choices.
So, how does an interactive film work? The viewer will have to make choices for the protagonist, and as a result, there are multiple endings to the same film. One of the most memorable interactive films on Netflix is Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, where the illusion of choices is well created. The choices presented in Choose Love are so shallow that you can pretty much guess all the possible endings. When it comes to rom-coms, we know how it goes. When there is a long-term relationship in question where the people involved are best friends, no other options stand a chance. Unless you consciously aim for a very different ending, the film is designed to reach a steady conclusion. What is interesting are the extra scenes that you get to watch with every different choice you make, and perhaps that is the only advantage of an interactive film. Some of the initial choices Cami makes have no impact on the ending. It is merely designed to make the viewers feel that they are in control.
Choose Love gets so carried away with the interactive idea that there is a serious lack of depth in the plot. No matter what option Cami chooses, the story is just not interesting enough to hold your attention till the very end. Honestly, had the film not been interactive, I might have just dozed off. It is as cliche as any rom-com can ever get, and it is difficult to care about the choices in Cami’s life. You have a rockstar musician, a photographer-educator-humanitarian and you also have a long-term boyfriend who is super attentive and extremely caring. The endgame is designed to make you choose one particular ending, even if the scenarios are different. There are a few interesting endings, but you have to be very aware of the choices that Cami has to make to reach the desired option.
So, in Choose Love, you pretty much have to choose the person you want Cami to be with in the end (or, not to be with anyone at all), and you also have to make some career choices for her. Cami works as a recording engineer, but she always wanted to become a singer, and keeping that in mind, there are a few options you have to choose from. The film can end sooner if the choices you make are obvious, or it can stretch a little longer with a few more details that you can learn about Cami’s life. Exploring the possible ending is perhaps the most exciting aspect of an interactive film, but to keep that interest going, the story has to be equally good. There is really nothing to look forward to in Choose Love, thanks to its very obvious nature. While an interactive rom-com is a brand-new idea, it needs a lot more work to retain attention.
Cami Conway is your typical rom-com protagonist who is always confused, though the root of the confusion is not convincing. She is frustrated with her job and wants to put her degree to use and create something that truly matters. When Cami suddenly came across Jack, whom she described as “the one that got away,” she was reminded of how passionate she used to be about singing. She also remembered how madly they were once in love with each other. After meeting Jack, Cami decided she must take charge of her career and do the things that she has always wanted to do.
While Peter was a supportive boyfriend, Cami struggled to make up her mind regarding committing to him forever. She assumes that meeting Jack could be more than just a beautiful coincidence, and it is up to the viewers to find out whether the childhood sweethearts stand a chance. Just when Cami was certain of what she wanted out of her career, she met Rex. A popular musician who was mesmerized by Cami’s honesty. With Rex, her dream of becoming a singer seemed to be a possibility, but is that what the audience wants? You can always undo the choices you make just to see what the other reaction could be. When Choose Love comes to an end, Netflix gives you the option to choose another possible trajectory for Cami to keep the story going. Arriving at different endings is pretty much what interactive film is all about, but there is a slim chance that the viewer will be hooked enough to invest their time and explore all the options.
Stuart McDonald’s Choose Love is as average as a rom-com can get. The only reason to choose this Netflix film is to explore the idea of interactivity. And I think that was pretty much the point of releasing the film. The script, the idea, the endings—none of it is worth sticking around for, except for the process. The creators are well aware of it, and therefore, very little effort went into the plot. In the future, we would definitely want to see a rom-com with a strong storyline and experimentation that is not just there for the sake of it. While personally, I am not a fan of interactive films, I am pretty sure there are many who enjoy the entire video game-esque concept. Netflix is trying to incorporate choice-based experimentation, and hopefully, when it comes to the rom-com genre, they will come up with a more complex film that will have an emotional punch to it and also be thoroughly entertaining. Till then, Choose Love is all that we get, and it is not a choice worth making.