The Hallmark Channel has made a name for itself by delivering lots of content that follows a certain formula. Everything, from the look of their characters, the writing, the music, and the visual palette, everything is pretty consistent between productions. This level of consistency, of course, develops into a brand and everybody who enjoys such a brand will know that every time they want to go and feel that way, they just need to go and get it. So, it is quite charming to see the Hallmark formula being altered, at least a tiny bit, and still remaining true to itself. The result is Love Strike Twice, a charming romantic comedy that, while flawed, makes for a good time.
Love Strikes Twice is directed by Jeff Beesley and stars Katie Findlay and Wyatt Nash. The film tells the story of Maggie, a successful lawyer who is having a lot of trouble with her husband, Josh. Wishing to be able to fix her relationship, a hit to the head transports Maggie 15 years to the past. There, she will get a new chance to change her life forever.
Let’s be clear, Love Strikes Twice does nothing new, at all. The film only feels different and unique inside the Hallmark bubble where it was created, but outside of it, there’s nothing particularly well done or executed. And yet, the movie remains charming all the way through. But how? Here, the main factor is Katie Findlay herself. The actress exudes charisma in every scene, and she just has the quality of a star, someone you can root for easily every step of the way. So, when the story starts to fall apart, it is Findlay who brings everything together and makes you give it another chance for ten minutes, and so on, until the movie is finished.
The rest of the cast do their job, but no one is really outstanding. Some of them could be said to be actually bad actors, but taking into consideration that this is a low-budget production with a rushed production, it becomes understandable that things are not as polished as they could be.
Either way. Jeff Beesley as a director has never been known for creating visual masterpieces. You can feel the “TV look” from the first seconds of the film. We all know that look, the cheap texture of video recording and overdone lighting. Everything is here, just like in any other Hallmark production.
Then we have the script. Here is where we can see Hallmark trying to do something different. It is definitely an experiment and the result has ups and downs, but the effort is commendable. Having said that. It is very strange that when using time travel as a set-up for a romantic comedy; the film chooses to focus most of its running time not on building up the relationship between Maggie and Josh, but on developing a court case about saving an important historical building.
The court case isn’t really that bad, it actually feeds into the interests of Maggie as a character, and we can see just how much she loves her job and how good she is at it. But it leaves Josh and their relationship in a sort of limbo. It’s very weird because during this time it is clear that they work as a couple, so the source of their problems becomes something much deeper that is never touched upon by the movie.
Some of the comedy is hit or miss, but Findlay’s charisma raises some of the material and delivers some fun moments. It is truly baffling that Findlay hasn’t been able to rise as a star outside these kinds of movies. This is very commendable work, but you can see and feel that she deserves so much more.
The way the script treats time travel also feels kind of half-baked. It is more in line with something like Groundhog Day than, say, Back to the Future. There are even a couple of scenes trying to pass the event off as a science fiction element, but it doesn’t really work. It‘s mostly some magical stuff happening. There’s nothing bad with that, but it is clear the writers were unsure about how to tackle this element in the script.
Love Strikes Twice might not be a true romantic comedy, but the time it spends on the romantic subplot is almost zero. But thanks to a wonderfully charming performance by Katie Findlay, the movie becomes an enjoyable journey regarding self acceptance and knowing when to let go of things. And that is more than a lot of Hallmark movies are used to work with.
Let’s hope that Findlay can continue to work, and she can reach the higher places where she deserves to be.