Review: ‘Love Type D,’ starring Maeve Dermody and Oliver Farnworth

July 19, 2021

by Carla Hay

Oliver Farnworth and Maeve Dermody in “Love Type D” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

“Love Type D”

Directed by Sasha Collington

Culture Representation: Taking place in London, the romantic comedy “Love Type D” features a predominantly white cast (with a few black people and people of Indian heritage) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A woman in her 20s gets dumped by her boyfriend, finds out that it’s in her DNA to get dumped, and she tries to reverse this DNA gene by getting all of her ex-boyfriends to fall for her again, so that she can dump them. 

Culture Audience: “Love Type D” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching silly and convoluted romantic comedies.

Maeve Dermody, Rory Stroud and Samuel Jones in “Love Type D” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

Someone should’ve told the filmmakers of “Love Type D” that it’s neither funny nor cute to do a romantic comedy about a woman who spends most of the movie stalking an ex-boyfriend who dumped her. It’s pathetic. Why is she stalking him? Because she wants to make him fall back in love with her, just so she can break up with him.

Why does she want to do go to all this trouble? Because she wants to reverse a DNA gene that makes her pre-disposed to get rejected in life. Does this make any sense or sound like it’s any fun to watch? No. It’s meant to be a high absurdist concept for the movie, but it’s filmed in a very lowbrow and clumsy way.

“Love Type D” is the feature-film debut of writer/director Sasha Collington. Everything about this movie screams “first-time director.” Although viewers can certainly appreciate the efforts of the movie’s cast members to be as charming as possible, the actors are stuck in an appalling mess of a movie where the concept is flimsy, the “desperate bachelorette” trope is outdated, and the comedic timing is awkward.

If you want to waste your time watching this treacly drivel, here’s a summary of what to expect: Frankie (played by Maeve Dermody) works at a very boring office job at an instruction manual company in London. Her birth year is 1993, which means that she’s in her late 20s when this story takes place. Remember that she’s in this age bracket when Frankie acts like a petulant, delusional and immature teenager for most of the movie.

In the beginning of the story, Frankie thinks that her life is going very well. She’s madly in love (the operative word here is “madly”) with her good-looking boyfriend Thomas (played by Oliver Farnworth), who’s about the same age as Frankie, maybe a few years older, and definitely more emotionally mature than Frankie. Thomas’ occupation isn’t stated in the movie.

In the movie’s opening scene, Frankie says in a voiceover, and it’s shown in a flashback, that she met Thomas a year ago on the Piccadilly subway line while she was getting dumped by someone else. Thomas was kind and sympathetic when he witnessed this breakup. Thomas and Frankie started talking to each other, one thing led to another, and they’ve been dating each other ever since. As far as Frankie is concerned, Thomas is “the one.”

While Frankie is reminiscing about her “meet cute” moment with Thomas and how “sweet” he is, she’s waiting for him at a restaurant for what she’s sure will be a romantic lunch date with Thomas. Instead, a bespectacled 11-year-old boy in a school uniform approaches Frankie because he has a message from Thomas to deliver to her. The boy introduces himself as Thomas’ brother Wilbur (played by Rory Stroud), and the message from Thomas is that Thomas is breaking up with Frankie, effective immediately.

Frankie is in shock and can’t believe that Thomas didn’t have the courtesy to break up with her himself in person. She’s in such denial that she tries to find Thomas to see if this breakup is some kind of joke. When she goes to Thomas’ apartment and places where he’s known to hang out, she can’t find him. More likely, he’s doing a very good job of hiding from her.

On the same day she got dumped, Frankie randomly sees Wilbur buying a bouquet of flowers on the street and chases after him like a crazy person. She essentially grabs this innocent boy and demands Wilbur to tell her where Thomas is. Wilbur says that he doesn’t know. In the ruckus, Wilbur has dropped a small greeting card (presumably to go with the flower bouquet) that has a message in Thomas’ handwriting. Frankie immediately picks up the card and reads it.

The greeting card is addressed to someone named Cecilia, and the message says that Thomas can’t wait to see Cecilia that night at a nightclub called Opal 8. Frankie forces Wilbur to tell her who Cecilia is, and Wilbur says that Cecilia is Thomas’ new girlfriend, whom Thomas met four days ago. (That was fast.) Cecilia (played by Alexandra Evans) is also an astronaut, just to make it clear to viewers that Cecilia is much smarter and more accomplished than Frankie will ever be. Guess who’s going to Opal 8 to spy on Thomas?

At the nightclub, Frankie sees Thomas and Cecilia together and acting like a very amorous couple. Frankie confronts Thomas and asks why he dumped her and berates him for sending Wilbur to do Thomas’ dirty work. Thomas’ response is to give her the old “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup excuse. He also tells Frankie that it was nice knowing her, but that she needs to stop stalking him. It soon becomes very obvious why he no longer wants anything to do with her: Frankie is scary-level obsessive.

Frankie spends most of the movie pining over Thomas and stalking him over the phone, on social media and in person. Thomas gets increasingly irritated with her intrusiveness. Thomas eventually gets a restraining order against Frankie, but it doesn’t stop her. There’s no one in Frankie’s life to tell her, “Yes, Frankie, you really have been dumped in an embarrassing way. Scrape together whatever dignity you have left and leave him alone.”

So why does she want him back after being treated so disrespectfully by Thomas, and he’s moved on to someone new? It’s one of the fundamental failures of this movie. A romantic comedy is supposed to have a protagonist whom audiences should be rooting for, not a protagonist who is such an insufferable obsessive that most viewers can’t relate to this person.

The fateful day when Wilbur told Frankie the news that Thomas was breaking up with her, Wilbur commented to Frankie that there are two kinds of people in this world: dumpers and dumpees. Considering that all of Frankie’s ex-boyfriends broke up with her, she knows she’s in the “dumpee” category. The next day at her job, while she’s wallowing in self-pity, Frankie takes an informal survey of her office co-workers to find out which ones are “dumpers” and “dumpees.”

She gets reactions that range from “dumpers” bragging that they’ve never been dumped to “dumpees” who are embarrassed or confused over why she’s asking them such personal information. Eventually, she identifies five other unlucky-in-love co-workers who are “dumpees”: Andy (played by Philip Duguid-McQuillan), Debra (played by Elin Phillips), Deepak (played by Asif Khan), Jenny (played by Ruth Bratt) and Kevin (played by Emeka Sesay).

None of these co-workers is in the movie long enough for viewers to get a sense of who they really are. Debra seems to be Frankie’s closest thing to having a friend at work. Debra takes a liking to the newly hired office intern John (played by William Joseph Firth), and they hook up with each other. But since Debra is a “dumpee,” things will not end well for her. Frankie is sympathetic to Debra because Frankie has plenty of experience being dumped.

Not long after Thomas broke up with her, Frankie has another encounter with Wilbur, who is with a classmate named Barnaby (played by Samuel Jones), another school-uniform-wearing boy who is essentially Wilbur’s sidekick for the rest of the movie. This time, Frankie sees Wilbur and Barnaby at a convenience store. Wilbur tells her about a company called Epigenica that is conducting a scientific study to prove that people have a DNA gene that determines if they will be a “dumper” or “dumpee.”

Frankie doesn’t believe it at first, until Barnaby shows her the study results in a Scientist Today magazine that he happens to have with him. By reading the article, Frankie finds out that the Epigenica scientist in charge of the study is named Dr. Elsa Blomgren (played by Tovah Feldshuh), who has developed a test (which looks lot like a home pregnancy test) where people find out if they are a “dumper” or “dumpee.” People who test positive for the Type D gene are “dumpees.”

And you know that that means: Frankie wants to take that test to find out for sure if she’s got the Type D gene. More time is wasted in the movie as Frankie schemes for a way to get the test, which is not available for sale to the public yet. She finds out that people who attend a seminar retreat led by Dr. Blomgren can get tested for the Type D gene. But Frankie doesn’t get far with this plan, because her credit card is declined when she’s at the retreat, so she’s asked to leave.

Frankie’s next scheme is to pretend to be a Scientist Today journalist doing an article on Dr. Blomgren’s study. She calls up Dr. Blomgren’s office and asks for a free sample of the test. Eventually, Frankie gets enough free samples so that her other “dumpee” co-workers can take the test too. Not surprisingly, they all test positive for the Type D gene.

Frankie feels relieved that being a “dumpee” is genetic. In other words, she uses it as an excuse to not take responsibility for anything she might have done to get dumped. But now, she wants a way to “reverse” this gene. Wilbur has a theory that the gene is triggered by the first romance someone has. If someone’s first romance ended with that person being dumped, then that person will be a “dumpee” for life.

And so, Frankie decides she’s going to go further down this rabbit hole of ridiculousness by thinking that the Type D gene can be reversed if she follows this plan: Find all of her ex-boyfriends, starting with her first ex-boyfriend, get them to fall in love with her, and then dump them, so she can become a “dumper.” Mind you, it’s only supposed to work if she does this in the chronological order of each ex-boyfriend that she had.

Meanwhile, because this movie thinks this crazy plan isn’t enough to tangle up the plot, Frankie has encouraged all of her “dumpee” co-workers to do the same things for their exes, so that they too can get their Type D genes reversed. And there’s some nonsense about luring all of these exes into one big room on the same night to get it all over with in one fell swoop.

How do they lure all these people into the same room on the same night? By giving them a fake notice that they’ve won sweepstakes prize money. Not surprisingly, Thomas is the most difficult of Frankie’s ex-boyfriends to lure into her trap. And so, more time-wasting shenanigans occur.

Frankie shames Wilbur for agreeing to be Thomas’ messenger for the breakup, thereby making Wilbur feel so guilty, that he’s pressured into helping Frankie with her schemes. How much of a loser do you have to be to force an 11-year-old child to help fix your love life? The movie has gone so far off the deep end at this point, that it’s sunk into an unending abyss of berserk stupidity, which is about the same way that anyone can describe Frankie’s mind.

There are plenty of cringeworthy moments in the movie, including Frankie’s attempts to make Thomas jealous. Wilbur sets her up on a blind date with a nerdy scientist bachelor named Roland (played Dan Starkey), but Frankie is irritated because Roland is not the hunk that she thought he would be. Considering that Frankie is the worst type of desperate bachelorette, and she’s gotten dumped by every boyfriend she’s ever had, she’s got some nerve being so picky. And because every bad romantic comedy seems to have a karaoke scene, “Love Type D” has that cliché too. The karaoke scene is abysmal.

As terrible as “Love Type D” is, it’s not a complete train wreck. The character of Wilbur is adorable and quite patient to put up with a disaster like Frankie. Some of Frankie’s “dumpee” co-workers seem like nice, decent people. And there are moments when Farnworth can bring much empathy to his Thomas character, even though Thomas is supposed to be the “villain” of the story.

The problem is that a detestable character like Frankie is front and center for almost the entire movie, which has a sitcom-ish musical score that is almost as irritating as this clueless main character. Dermody’s acting doesn’t help, because she plays the Frankie role like a 16-year-old, not as a grown woman. There’s an attempt to have a “female empowerment” message at the end of the film. But it’s a very phony message, considering that viewers have already seen Frankie’s true nature. No amount of reverse-DNA experiments can reverse her annoying personality.

Vertical Entertainment released “Love Type D” on digital and VOD on July 9, 2021.