Review: ‘Love Is Love Is Love,’ starring Rosanna Arquette, Kathy Baker, Maya Kazan, Chris Messina, Cybill Shepherd, Joanne Whalley and Rita Wilson

December 26, 2021

by Carla Hay

Pictured clockwise, from top center: Maya Kazan, Rosanna Arquette, Polly Draper, Joanne Whalley, Nancy Carlin, Cybill Shepherd, Elea Oberon, Alyson Reed, Valarie Pettiford and Rita Wilson in “Love Is Love Is Love” (Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment)

“Love Is Love Is Love”

Directed by Eleanor Coppola 

Culture Representation: Taking place in various U.S. cities, the dramatic anthology film “Love Is Love Is Love” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few Latinos and African Americans) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Challenges in sustaining loving relationships are presented in three separate and unrelated stories within the film. 

Culture Audience: “Love Is Love Is Love” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching a boring movie about love, featuring some well-known cast members.

Marshall Bell and Kathy Baker in “Love Is Love Is Love” (Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment)

“Love Is Love Is Love” should’ve been titled “Dull Is Dull Is Dull,” if people want an accurate description of this slow-moving train wreck. The movie wastes the talents of the cast in this badly conceived and clunky anthology film. Directed by Eleanor Coppola, who co-wrote the snooze-worthy screenplay with Karen Leigh Hopkins, this movie’s main purpose seems to be to give jobs to some well-known, longtime actresses, who unfortunately do not work enough due to age discrimination. These actresses deserve better than this misfire that does little to dispel the Hollywood movie stereotype that women over the age of 60 have boring love lives whenever they’re put in a movie.

What’s also off-kilter about the three-story anthology film “Love Is Love Is Love” is that the first two stories are much shorter than the third story. The first story, titled “Two For Dinner,” is 20 minutes long. Next is “Sailing Lesson,” which totals 16 minutes. Last but not least is “Late Lunch,” which is 49 minutes long and is the best story in the anthology. But that’s not saying much, because “Late Lunch” is still monotonous and ends in a very corny way.

“Two for Dinner” and “Sailing Lesson” are so inconsequential and forgettable, the movie would’ve been better off if it focused solely on the “Late Lunch” story, but only if it had gone through a major rewrite that improved the dialogue. Most of the cast members in the entire film do an adequate job in their performances. But they are hampered by playing characters who have the somewhat sad air of people who think that their best days are behind them.

“Two for Dinner”

“Two for Dinner” is literally about a video conference conversation that a bored and lonely wife named Joanne (played by Joanne Whalley) has with her film producer husband Jack (played by Chris Messina) while he’s away on location for a movie shoot in Whitefish, Montana. The movie never says exactly where Joanne is, but it’s supposed to be somewhere in the U.S., thousands of miles away from Montana. The conversation is supposed to be “cute” because Joanne and Jack have each taken their laptop computers to a local restaurant, so they can talk to each other while having dinner at a restaurant table.

If you think it’s romantic to watch a husband and wife make small talk about what to order on the menu and discussing whom their college-age daughters are dating while restaurant servers occasionally interrupt the conversation to take orders, then “Love Is Love Is Love” is the movie for you. You’ll find out more about the adult daughters’ love lives then you’ll find out about this longtime married couple.

For example, Joanne talks about a daughter named Kate, who’s dating a guy who rides a motorcycle. Joanne tells Jack that one day, the boyfriend asked Joanne for advice on how to have a long marriage. Joanne’s reply? “Don’t get divorced.” The end of this dull-as-dirt “Two for Dinner” segment ends with Joanne making an impulsive decision that’s supposed to show she wants to bring some spark to the marriage. Too late. Viewers might already be tempted to fall asleep or stop watching.

“Sailing Lesson”

Things don’t get much better in “Sailing Lesson,” which is about a married, retired couple who get stranded on a lake when they take what’s supposed to be a romantic boat ride by themselves. The movie doesn’t mention the name of the city where these spouses live. Diana (played by Kathy Bates) and John (played by Marshall Bell) have been together for 41 years, but John tells Diana that he’s gotten so bored with her, he openly jokes to Diana that he’s going to find a girlfriend.

Even though he’s only joking, Diana is alarmed enough to coax John to go a date with her on a boat where they are the only two people on the boat. While they sail on a lake, Diana and John have some bland conversations where they talk a little bit about their relationship. John doesn’t like that Diana seems to care more about her book club and going to gardening events than she seems to care about him.

And then, what do you know: The boat’s engine malfunctions, and it can’t start. There are no other people in sight to help John and Diana. Predictably, the boat is so basic, it doesn’t even have an emergency radio. John and Diana also can’t get any signals on their phones.

While Diana and John wait for any type of help to show up, the movie tries to have a sexy moment when Diana decides that she’s going give oral sex to John. (There’s nothing explicit shown, but it’s clear what Diana is about to do when she unzips John’s shorts and lowers her head.) It’s all so staged and phony that it’s anything but sexy. It doesn’t help that Bell is a supbar actor who just recites his lines in a robotic way.

It’s easy to predict what happens in the midst of this sex act. Let’s just say that after being “stranded” alone for hours, John and Diana suddenly don’t have privacy when they need it. By the time this plot development happens, viewers won’t care what really happens to John and Diana during and after this boat excursion. There are tidal waves that are more exciting than this couple.

“Late Lunch”

“Late Lunch” isn’t about a couple trying to spice up their marriage but it’s about a young social-justice attorney named Caroline (played by Maya Kazan), who has invited the dearest friends of her late mother, Claire Reynolds, to have a luncheon at Claire’s house, which is somewhere in California. Claire, who died a month earlier in a car accident, was a widow and a retired photo editor. The “love” in this story is about the love between friends and between a parent and a child.

Almost the entire segment consists of the conversation around the table during this lunch. One by one, the women talk about their lives and share their stories. Caroline, who’s lived on the East Coast since she was 18, had a tension-filled relationship with her mother. Claire disapproved when bachelorette Caroline broke up with a fiancé whom her mother wanted Caroline to marry. Caroline is filled with some guilt and regret because her last conversation with her mother was an argument.

The guests at the luncheon share their fondest memories of Claire and how she affected their lives. Anne (played by Rosanna Arquette) talks about how when she and Claire were teenagers, they made plans to lose their virginity around the same time. Jackie (played by Alyson Reed) is a lesbian who says that even though Claire was politically conservative, Jackie admired how Claire was so accepting of Jackie when Jackie came out of the closet about her sexuality.

Marlene (played by Polly Draper) had a sometimes-rocky friendship with Claire, whom she met when they both worked at Vogue. At the time, Marlene was an intern, and Claire was an assistant to the photo editor. Marlene says that Claire was a “bitch” to Marlene when they first got to know each other. Marlene and Claire found out that they were both dating the same guy at the same time, but Marlene and Claire ended up becoming friends. When Marlene reveals a secret that happened later in her friendship with Claire, it’s not too surprising, considering what happened early in their friendship.

Whalley, who was in the “Two for Dinner” segment, is in “Late Lunch” as another character named Joanne. The Joanne in “Late Lunch” says that her husband left her for another man. Nancy (played by Cybill Shepherd) confesses an emotionally painful secret from her past that has to do with parenthood. Mary Kay (played by Rita Wilson) is an aspiring singer, which means that Wilson promotes her own music in the movie. She sings a song during this lunch called “Because Love,” which Wilson co-wrote with Laura Karpman.

Wendy (played by Valarie Pettiford) is a doctor who often confided in Claire about the challenges and bigotry that Wendy experiences as an African American woman. Patty (played by Nancy Carlin) is Claire’s childhood friend from Dayton, Ohio, who feels self-conscious that her life isn’t as sophisticated and well-traveled as many of the other women’s lives. The other women try to reassure Patty that her life is just as interesting as theirs, but they don’t sound very convincing because no one really wants to hear about Patty’s life in depth.

Rose Simone (played by Elea Oberon) is a French woman from Paris who is a latecomer to the lunch. She brings a box of French chocolate as a gift. When the subject of forgiving infidelity comes up, Rose Simone offers this trite platitude: “Love. It’s bigger than the bedroom.” This is the type of mawkishness that the movie tries to pass off as “witty” conversation. Unfortunately, this luncheon, which was supposed to be a tribute to Claire, often sounds like a pity party of women expressing regrets about decisions they made in their youth.

“Love Is Love Is Love” misses the mark because viewers are left wondering what the point of the movie is when the movie presents love in such a passionless way. The movie basically just shows two stories about two longtime married couples having boring conversations while on a date, and a third story about women at a luncheon talking about themselves and a dead woman. Much like the tone of this movie, the “love” isn’t vibrant at all but is rather outdated and unaware of how lackluster it is.

Blue Fox Entertainment released “Love Is Love Is Love” in select U.S. cinemas on November 12, 2021. The movie’s release on digital and VOD was on December 14, 2021.

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