Amid the teeming hordes of romantic comedies, the simple ‘walk-and-talk’ narrative is perhaps the most pure. Two strangers meet, get to know each other over the course of a day or two, fall in love, and just maybe live happily ever after. It’s a high wire act that relies almost entirely on the chemistry of its leads, but when it works it’s among the sweetest of simple pleasures. Many would argue it was perfected as long ago as It Happened One Night, or that the peak of the modern take is Before Sunrise. Just last year Rye Lane offered an imaginative spin on the formula. Which Brings Me to You doesn’t reach those heights, but does get its casting right, making for an appealing watch that traverses some tonal inconsistencies.

Jane and Will (Lucy Hale and Nate Wolff) are two losers in love who meet at a wedding and head off to the cloakroom for a swift knee-trembler. Will puts the brakes on, apparently thinking better of it. Jane is annoyed but Will explains that he would be breaking a promise to himself. The two spend the next day trading their romantic history like a tragic game of Top Trumps. As they bond over their past loves and losses, they reveal more about themselves and ponder the possibilities of the other as a partner.

It becomes clear very quickly that leads Hale and Wolff have the necessary charisma and connection to power through anything other than the most inept writing. It’s obvious that they’ve been damaged by their pasts, but not to the point of bitterness. They’re well aware of the spark between them, but treat it with the wariness of Neanderthals using that spark to light a fire. Jane goes for broken men, while Will struggles to commit. Archetypes for sure, but the script by Steve Almond, Julianna Baggott, and Keith Bunin flesh out their characters as they delve deeper into their pasts, revealing a solidly likeable pairing with a digestible amount of spikiness.

Director Peter Hutchings keeps things largely simple, sensibly opting for lots of shot/ reverse shot compositions that focus on the attractive faces of his leading couple, intercut with the expected medium shots of them gazing at each other. A bit of postmodern flair is added by having the pair appearing in each other’s stories to watch and comment, like Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Past. It’s fairly standard, but completely satisfactory.

While the writing gives us a full gamut of relationships through which our lovelorn leads have stumbled, the narrative does start to pile up on top of itself and you soon realise the pair are only relating to each other through one particular lens which adds a particular filter of artificiality common to most romcoms, but which had been refreshingly absent to begin with. Also, the more Jane and Will share with each other, the more serious the film becomes, with pretty much all of the early breezy, occasionally forthright and candid, humour completely jettisoned by a certain point once Jane gets to a relationship she had with college professor John Gallagher Jr (the most broken of her broken men). There’s also a late revelation that is hard to believe wouldn’t have come up between them before.

Some narrative shortcomings aside, Which Brings Me to You is a cut above most modern romcoms. It sticks to its simple premise and, with the odd exception, doesn’t litter the path of possibly true love with any clunky obstacles. Crucially, you care about the pair and root for them to get together and if that bar is being cleared, then the film’s doing something right. The balance between the rom and the com isn’t even, but the more serious turn doesn’t completely smother the early light touch entirely.

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