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Priyanka Chopra Jonas is arguably our most successful crossover Bollywood star. Arthouse heavies like Shabana Azmi have starred in American movies since the 70s, and Slumdog Millionaire won the Oscar, but no other Indian actress has as much name recognition.
True, some people may only know of her as Nick Jonas’s wife (or Deepak Chopra’s daughter, if you are Rosie O’ Donnell), but she is the only Indian actress to headline a TV show.
So it was with some excitement that I went to watch the new rom-com. Love Again, starring Priyanka and Sam Heugan of Outlander fame. Had PC finally found the One? The one to be her breakout Hollywood movie?
Texting the dead
The movie starts out promisingly enough. Mira Ray (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) is having a hard time moving on after losing her loving boyfriend in a drunk driving accident. To cope, she starts sending long text messages to his phone.
On the other side of town, Rob Burns (Sam Heughan) is a heartbroken reporter who has been dumped by his fiancee. He gets a new phone at work (and also a Celine Dion interview, but more on that later). However, unlike the rest of us, whose most exciting spam messages are ‘Your Amazon account has been locked. Please click here,’ Rob starts receiving Mira’s text messages on his new phone because her dead boyfriend’s number has been reassigned to the device. Again, unlike you or me, Rob does not respond with “New phone, who dis?”, but falls in love with her instead.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite sell its sadness. Who among us, like Mira, has not clung to a comforting memory even though the past is long gone, because the present is hard and unrewarding? Or has been so starved for connection that we see it in the flimsiest of things like Rob?
But Love Again rushes ahead too quickly. What could have been a heartfelt story of two lonely people getting past loss and moving on becomes a bland series of meet-cutes.
There are some fun parts. Nick Jonas – Priyanka’s real-life husband– cameos briefly as Mira’s date from hell. And Celine Dion – as herself– plays a fun Cupid trying to advance the romance.
Though I personally found the movie’s attempts to sell Celine’s own romance with her late husband René Angélil as some sort of exemplary love story slightly odd, given that she was 12 and he almost 40 when they met. And Rob’s co-workers – best friend Billy (Russell Tovey), and boss (Steve Oram) – are hilarious in scenes where they also try to help him win Mira over. As per rom-com rules, everyone in the movie has no other interests other than advancing the hero’s love life.
All in all, if you have an afternoon to spare, you’re better served watching reruns of Outlander or even browsing pictures of the Chopra-Jonas wedding.