You know when you’re in love, right? There’s that feeling you get, just being with them. That look they send your way that just makes your insides melt. Or they say “pain au chocolat” in such an adorable way that makes you run away to France together forever.
Of course that’s not to say those feelings are reciprocated, as they may still struggle to remember your name, just after meeting you briefly the once, but that’s love for you.
But what if you could do a test? One that categorically determines whether there is indeed mutual love in the air - would you take it? That’s the premise for this latest Apple TV+ release.
Having been recently laid off from her post teaching at her old school, Anna (Jessie Buckley) is looking for a new job. Although she has a few interviews at other schools, a position at the Love Institute catches her eye.
It’s a job where she helps assess couples, who will eventually take a test to see if they’re meant to be romantically or not. There’s a lot of pressure as if they don’t pass the test, they are no longer a couple.
Anna is fascinated with the whole experience, having taken the test herself with her boyfriend Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) three years ago.
She gets the job as a trainer, shadowing her co-worker Amir (Riz Ahmed), but for some reason, doesn’t feel like telling her boyfriend about it, instead choosing to pretend she’s teaching at a new school.
She spends a lot of time with couples, as well as with Amir, as they put them to the test to see if they really have what it takes to have a relationship. It’s no wonder then with all that love in the air that Anna was going to fall. But is it the real thing? There’s only one way to find out.
Apple have to be commended for taking chances so early out of the gate with their fledgling film department, with this charming lo-fi rom-com.
Not only is it only the second feature from Greek director Christos Nikou, it’s his first in the English language. The result is one of those rare films that although American is very European art house in style. And here at least it proves to be the perfect match.
It’s set in a very uncluttered world, possibly even an example of a multi-verse, where mobile phones are still not a thing, but video and vinyl are. So a great place for hipsters then.
It is a metaphor for our reliance on technology, with the Love Institute’s basic computer standing in for every dating app under the sun. But it’s more than that.
It’s a love story about finding love and then understanding if it is really love, as well as knowing if you’re still in love some time down that road.
There’s also a narrative about not being dictated to by outside influences, such as a love machine, as it were, and going with your own heart. But as many of us know in real life, that’s when you can get yourself into real trouble.
Nikou certainly benefits from an incredible cast, that also includes Luke Wilson, with the only questionable element being that of trying to convince an audience that Jessie Buckley could possibly fall out of love with Allen White, which for anyone who has seen his exceptional work in the US version of Shameless and the hit show The Bear is a tough ask.
It’s also fun that the director, who also co-wrote the film, acknowledges the rom-com genre with a cute homage to Hugh Grant, but is also confident in its own, satisfyingly dry and subtle take on the genre too.
It’s also only fitting then that a film about a love test is also one in its own way; all you have to do is watch it with a potential partner, then if they don’t love it as much as you do, then let’s face it, it’s just not to be, what further proof do you need?
And on the off chance that you don’t fall head over heels in love with it yourself, then sorry, you’re just not our type.