Saturday, November 13, 2021

Soulmates: Movie Review

Sweet romance with a lot of immaturity.
Soulmates is comedy first, which is a necessity given the storyline is from a Hallmark made-for-TV movie. Two rural Vermonters Jess (Stephanie Lynn) and Sam (Alexandra Case) have been best friends since childhood and have stayed in the small town with Jess taking care of her father’s farm, but then an evil corporation threatens to buy-up family farms and destroy Vermont, but Jess falls for the handsome evil-doer and Sam has to save their friendship.   2021

Directed by: Timothy Armstrong

Screenplay by: Alexandra Case, Stephanie Lynn

Starring: Alexandra Case and Stepahnie Lynn

It is as cartoonish as it sounds. At least the filmmakers know that and repeatedly call Peterson Maple the big bad evil corporation, trying to play up the comedy aspect instead of the drama. As a drama it would be a bad movie, as a comedy, it’s just a not-very-funny, overly-simplified movie. But their hearts are in the right place. Lead actresses Stephanie Lynn and Alexandra Case are both from rural Vermont and co-wrote this movie to highlight the Vermont lifestyle and sense of community that they grew up with.

If you’re like me, you probably saw the title and the poster and assumed it was a story of how Jess and Sam fell in love with each other. That they went from best friends to ultimate soulmates. But no. While Soulmates does refer to Jess and Sam’s friendship, the film is as heteronormative as you can get. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

I am a fan of the rural lifestyle, and Lynn and Case do well digging in to the quirks of their friendship. Landon (Mark Famiglietti) is the hot executive of Peterson Maple who is expanding their maple syrup business into Vermont. He argues that with the cost advantages of economies of scale that a large production like Peterson Maple can increase advertising and increase demand for maple syrup, worldwide which will help the family farms more than hurt them. Sam thinks Peterson Maple is just going to buy up all the family farms and destroy their small community. Landon is painted with a bit too broad of a brush, the other characters have tunnel-vision, but that’s understandable since most people would.

Jess and Landon quickly fall madly in love. It’s supposed to seem fast because Sam is outraged, and the film does reasonably well building up the chemistry and believable romance between Jess and Landon despite the accelerated pace of their relationship and limited time to get to know them. After that, we’re back into the exaggerated comedy. Sam, attempting to destroy their relationship, remembers a pact they made as 12-year-olds, they both have to get married at the same time. Apparently this seems reasonable to adult Sam and Jess, and now Sam has to meet a guy and get married. The expected comedy with multiple awful suitors is, as expected, awful. Especially since the right guy for Sam is right there, and we barely get to know him.

The film relies on the inherent comedy more than it should since it’s just not that funny given how immature the story is. The writers did make an unfortunate mistake, in an overzealous attempt to paint Landon as bad and evil what they ultimately (and unintentionally) showed was how dysfunctional the relationship is between Jess and her dad, and how bad of a manager Jess is. The audience is supposed to hate Landon, instead I lost all sympathy for Jess.

Soulmates is a sweet romance (hey! It’s about maple syrup) of both friendship and love, but the writing does let it down a lot, so you’ll probably need to be a fan of these cheesy stories to really enjoy it.