“Love & Gelato” is the new breezy romantic Netflix film that unfolds in Italy as Lina follows in her mother’s footsteps. Directed by Brandon Camp, the film is an adaptation of the novel written by Jenna Evans Welch that goes by the same name. As an awkward teenager, Lina struggled to comprehend the reason why her late mother would want her to take a solo trip to Italy. But the promise, once made, had to be kept. She missed her mother since she was supposed to accompany her had she been alive and hoped that in all her clumsiness, she would brave the cross-continent tour.
“Love & Gelato” might appeal to young adults who are on the lookout for romantic stories with an element of thrill. Though overall, as a woman in her 20s, this is just another romantic film punched with the usual sugariness. Lina Emerson, played by Susanna Skaggs, is the clumsy protagonist that we are all familiar with; the usual awkward nerdy teenager who has never fallen in love (a character so common that it is almost sinful to do it over and over again). Next, we have Addie, her best friend, whose sole purpose in the film is to be Lina’s cheerleader. The black, overenthusiastic best friend is another mainstream character trope that continues to exist. In the film, we never get to know Addie beyond her shrieking whenever Lina talks about the boys she met in Italy. She is good with Photoshop and loves social media. That is all the information we have. Though Anjelika Washington as Addie was a delight to watch, she made me long for more of Addie’s screen time!
Lina packs her bags to travel to Italy. Her mother had traveled there when she was of her age and wanted her daughter to do the same. The purpose of the trip was for Lina to find herself before she started college. Self-discovery is crucial, and her mother wanted her daughter to break free from the kind of life she had built in the United States. While bidding Addie goodbye was tough, she mastered the courage to travel to Italy. When her mother, Hadley, traveled to Italy, she stayed with a loving family and their daughter, Francesca, was of her age. Lina did the same; she lived at Francesca’s house, who was also her mother’s best friend, and promised to introduce her to everything that her mother enjoyed during her stay. Lina met Francesca’s cousin, Howard Riley, who was also her mother’s friend. He had come to Italy to study at the university when he met Hadley through Francesca. He handed over the camera Lina’s mother used during her stay; she carried it everywhere she went. Lina never knew that her mother had an interest in photography. She was getting to know her mother better each day of her stay. Francesca gave Lina her mother’s diary, something that Hadley wanted her daughter to read after she reached Italy. Lina navigated Italy through her mother’s eyes; the diary guided her to avoid the mistakes her mother had once made.
“Love & Gelato” deals with Lina’s exploration of her mother’s past. A past that she had kept hidden from her daughter since her birth. Lina did not know who her father was, and it is on this trip that she attempts to trace back the past. On one hand, Lina studied her mother’s diary to find her father, and on the other hand, she had her own life to take care of. She met Alessandro Albani, the wealthy son of a financial family, who had enrolled in Harvard and took a liking to the American girl, and Lorenzo Ferrazza, a chef in the making, who introduced Lina to the world of patisseries and gelatos. She had her first kiss and her first heartbreak, and even though her mother was not there by her side, the diary helped her to make the right decisions. The goal was always for Lina to experience the world but to never make a decision in haste. Whom Lina chooses as her lover is only revealed at the end of the movie.
Brandon Camp’s film has several picturesque shots of Rome, ranging from St. Peter’s Square to the Colosseum. A film set in Italy would have been incomplete without the food, and gladly, food has been the binding force in bringing people together. There is gelato in the title itself. What more can one ask for? Lorenzo’s nonna (grandmother) had stopped him from mentioning the fifth ingredient of the gelato, which also happens to be the most important one. It is only at the end of the film that Lina expresses that she now knows what the ingredient was, though it is kept a secret from the audience. Any guesses? “Love & Gelato” can be the film to watch when you want to escape the drudgery of everyday life, though it can be too sweet for one’s taste.