Atypical romantic comedy Love Reconsidered, stuffed to the brim with heart, sees Sophie von Haselberg play a down-on-her luck New Yorker.
Love Reconsidered is a new romantic comedy from director Carol Ray Hartsell and writer Arielle Haller-Silverstone. Set in both New York and the Hamptons, it’s a breezy watch that will leave you unexpectedly happy and feeling all sorts of fulfilled at the end of your viewing.
Ruby (Sophie von Haselberg) is the protagonist in the story, and everything is set up to make us root for her. But beyond the confines of the story, every moment von Haselberg is on screen is just fun. She possesses an easy-going charisma that commands the camera‘s and, thus, the audience’s attention. It’s delightful, and she’s a fantastic romantic heroine and lead actress.
Ruby has a job (and loses it) because she dreams of more and dares to step outside the bounds of being a lowly caterwaiter. For her, this is not unexpected: her caterwaiter boss even put up a sign that says “no schmoozing” specifically for her at events. Alas, it falls through, and we are introduced to the reality of her situation. She’s thirty and, as the film’s marketing puts it, “flirty and definitely not thriving.” Ruby still lives with her parents in her childhood room, complete bunk beds, stuffed animals, and pictures of aspirational and powerful women on the wall. To top it all off, Noah (Jon Lemmon), her on-again but mostly off-again boyfriend, has broken up with her, citing the need for space. Things are the pits for Ruby.
A chance encounter on a park bench with a pigeon-feeding older woman/fairy godmother – who is definitely not a serial killer – named Golda (Elaine Bromka) ends up with the offer of a lifetime. Ruby accepts and is off to the Hamptons to manage Golda’s defunct consignment store, aptly called “The Magic Closet,” in the ritzy getaway destination.
Because there wouldn’t be a movie if Ruby got her happily ever after right away, things go wrong. Golda’s spare apartment that Ruby is supposed to stay in is occupied by a good-hearted but mom-obsessed porn editing man named Elijah (Ed Herbstman). She ends up staying in a trailer with a man named John (Luke Gulbranson), who channels all the swagger and heart of Wilson Bethel’s Wade in Hart of Dixie. Gulbranson is a fantastic foil for von Haselberg, and their moments together provide a lot of Love…Reconsidered’s comedy.
But after things have gone so drastically wrong for Ruby, and she’s now firmly established in this new (to her) world of the Hamptons, the story’s focus shifts from her to others. Ruby and her Magic Closet are now the hubs connecting many other love stories. As new people visit her shop, we follow them and get brief vignettes of their love lives and relationships. It seems as if they’re all touched by a bit of magic.
These are all different and interesting explorations of love, power, innocence, and lies – but they’re not Ruby. The moments we dip into their lives are fascinating and are full of enough drama and interesting characters that they could stand alone as their own stories. This is Ruby’s story, and she shouldn’t have to share it, even if Paige, Ollie, and the others are refreshing.
Perhaps that’s the point of the movie. Ruby thankfully gets her happy ending – but it isn’t love. A villainess in the story named Eden (Julia Coffey) gets her comeuppance due to something we won’t spoil in this review that John notices about her. It’s a hugely satisfying and well-earned moment after we see Eden put Ruby through in the stolen moments for her character development between these other love vignettes. As they’re celebrating, John asks Ruby out. And she declines him because she’s already got what she wants. The message of Love Reconsidered is a thoughtful and very progressive one in the romance genre: you don’t have to have a partner to be fulfilled and happy. Ruby is “dying to be relevant” and gets her relevance and a loving community in the end.
But Love Reconsidered is not a traditional romantic comedy, and for the viewer who expects that there may be some confused feelings. It is about love, but the film’s opening premise differs from the journey the filmmakers ultimately deliver. I want to be clear: This was a fun, well-made, and well-acted movie. How it unwound was unexpected; perhaps a more fitting title would be “Romantic Comedy… Reconsidered.”
On a lighter note, Love Reconsidered uses Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop to great effect to bring to life the personalities of the Hamptons. I so wanted Paltrow to show up and even expected her to with how often they referenced the actress. Jake Johnson’s directorial debut Self Reliance got Wayne Brady to pop in after referencing him throughout the film, and I so wanted that here for Paltrow. It was likely out of budget but it would have been a strong “crunchy dill” move.
Love Reconsidered will be released in select US theaters on February 2 and on demand on February 6, 2024.