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Review: Love Type D – “A light and quirky comedy”

Alfred Lord Tennyson once famously wrote, ”Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’  They are words we all might conjure at the end of a relationship to rationalize the pain of a breakup.  But what if your pattern of relationships consistently led to you being on the receiving end of that final conversation? A tiresome pattern of loving and losing that is never by your choice.  What if you could stop the pattern?  That’s exactly what is attempted in the new film Love Type D.

Frankie (Maeve Dermody) meets Thomas (Oliver Farnsworth) on the Piccadilly line after a breakup.  She falls fast and hard for him, thinks he is ‘the one,’ that he is the perfect man for her.  But as she waits for Thomas to show up for lunch one day, an eleven-year-old boy shows up instead.  Wilbur (Rory Stroud) is Thomas’ half-brother, and he’s been sent to break up with Frankie. This is another in a long string of relationships where she has been dumped.  At the end of her rope with always being the ‘dumpee,’ she follows Wilbur to discover Thomas has already started anew.  With a beautiful astronaut no less.  Who can compete with that?

But Wilbur, a studious young man, tells Frankie of a scientific study that might explain everything that has happened to her.  Scientists at a company called Epigenica have discovered a gene that puts people into one of two categories – dumper or dumpee.  The fate of Frankie’s relationships might in fact be written all over her DNA.  Wilbur has a theory though, that this gene’s expression can be reversed – so long as you reverse your dating history.  On a mission, Frankie travels back through her dating history to rekindle her romances and dump her partners before they can do the same to her.  Only then might she might have a chance at lasting love and the happy ending she craves.

Love Type D is the debut feature from writer-director Sasha Collington who refreshingly stays away from most of the typical ‘romantic comedy’ tropes.  She creates her main protagonist, Frankie, not as a Hollywood stereotype but instead as a relatable, down-to-earth character played with a sense of melancholy by Maeve Dermody.  The cringe-worthy scene where Wilbur breaks up with her on Thomas’ behalf immediately makes you empathetic towards Frankie, a necessary feeling that continues throughout the film.  Though one wonders what on earth Frankie really sees in Oliver Farnworth’s Thomas, whose character seemingly has few redeeming factors – it’s a hard match to truly root for.

Collington makes the most of her London surroundings as her characters move about their lives, making this travel-starved writer yearn to return.  But the director also carves out a fantastical element here, one that at times seems so absurd that it seems out of place, though perhaps it also exists to satirize some of the more ridiculous elements of typical romantic comedies.  Either way, Collington seems to have much to say on the current state of modern dating, and there are laughs to be had in her writing.  I particularly loved the questions asked to screen the genetic test candidates, ones such as, ‘Have you ever won at Monopoly?’ or ‘Did any of your childhood pets run away?’  If your test comes back positive for the D gene, your only hope is to take up hobbies such as needlepoint and gardening.  You might as well give up on love entirely.  Her commentary is biting, yet relatable and just my sense of humour.

Love Type D won’t be for everyone, but it is a light and quirky comedy that tries, mostly with success, to bend the genre from which it was born.  It is smarter than most typical rom-coms and shouldn’t be brushed aside as such.  Collington proves herself more than capable of a transition from short form to feature film and I will be watching both her and Dermody with interest on where their careers take them next.

Love Type D is available on demand July 9, 2021

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