Normally, Lina can always think of a reason why trying something is a bad idea, but she is about to have a summer unlike anything she could have expected. From riding Italian “death bikes” to jumping off cliffs, Lina’s trip to Italy will be filled with new things.
Admittedly, Lina wasn’t left with many choices. Her mother, when she was dying, insisted she take this trip by herself. And even though Lina didn’t want to go, she knew she had to. She couldn’t ignore her mom’s last wish, after all.
And though her heart’s still heavy from that terrible loss, she discovers that Italy is all her mom said it could be. Sipping wine and eating pastries on the beautiful streets of Rome, what could be better? Well, it turns out people can complicate things. But Lina finds through the summer that the most complicated person she has to figure out is … herself.
The story follows Lina as she processes her grief and attempts to discover who she is in the wake of her mom’s illness and death. While we never see her mom on screen, we know that she and Lina were close. And we’re told, by the people who knew her best, how special Lina’s mother was. Howard, who spent a lot of time with Lina’s mom while she lived in Italy, takes a particular shine to Lina. He is a present and encouraging figure throughout the film.
Lina’s relationships with her best friend, Addie, and and her Italian godmother, Francesca, are also partially positive, as they try to help her experience joy and love. And while Lina meets two possible love interests in Italy—the rich playboy Alessandro and the sensitive chef Lorenzo, she eventually chooses not to have relationships with either boy that summer because of the unhealthy interactions she had with them. Everyone encourages Lina to have self-confidence and to be herself.
[Spoiler Warning] Lina was born out of wedlock, and when she learns that his birth father lives in Rome, she sets out to meet him. He turns out to be kind of a jerk, and Lina learns that there’s a huge difference between fathering a child and being a real, honest-to-goodness father. And when Howard—who has long cared for and worried over Lina—asks Lina if he can become her adopted dad, Lina accepts.
And while Lina worries that her mom’s unexpected pregnancy in Italy—when she got pregnant with Lina—wrecked her mother’s life, she eventually realizes that’s not the case. In her mom’s old diary, Lina finds an ultrasound picture of herself before she was born, with her mom describing that unborn child as her “new purpose.” And when Lina moans that her mom gave up everything she loved “because of me,” Howard tells her she’s wrong.
“You were everything that she loved,” he says.
The film is relatively light on sexual content for a Netflix teen romance.
Still, some of the dialogue has some sexual implications, such as Lina telling Alessandro that she hasn’t “been with” any guys. Addie tells Lina towards the beginning of the movie that she should “hook up” with a hot Italian since she didn’t hook up with any guys her senior year.
Alessandro’s dad says that Alessandro is unlikely to remember Lina’s name in the morning (suggesting that Alessandro has been with a number of interchangeable women). Alessandro takes his shirt off and Lina wears a one piece swimsuit when they go swimming together. This swim ends with the two kissing, and Alessandro offers not to play games or be with other people. Addie later asks if he put his hands on the “North Pole or South Pole” during the kiss, and Lina says that is gross and doesn’t answer. (She later says that he tried to “cop a feel.”) Lorenzo and Lina make a few references to a baker’s “cold hands,” which could potentially be interpreted as an inappropriate innuendo.
Throughout the film, the characters discuss and comment on each others’ relative hotness and sexiness. Lina kisses Lorenzo a few times and leans on his shoulder on a bus ride, while he is still dating a different girl.
Lorenzo and his girlfriend kiss several times.
Two women, married to each other, kiss on screen and mention their love for each other. Lorenzo later calls them his moms. Lorenzo says that he ended a friendship with Alessandro because he stood silently while his friend called Lorenzo’s mom a slur meaning homosexual woman.
A few Classical Roman statues appear on screen that depict men unclothed.
Lina tells Lorenzo that she had a “gelato orgasm” after tasting Lorenzo’s gelato. A baker who Lina begs for some pasteries says that her pastries don’t disappoint Lina the way boys do because they don’t have a penis.
Lina comments that her mom said she would have to be bailed out of jail if she ever saw Lina’s father again. Addie says that she would hurt Alessandro if he treated Lina poorly again. Howard implies that he thinks about hurting boys who are interested in Lina.
We hear some consistent foul language in the film. The f-word and f—ing each are heard once (along with at least one f-word stand-in). The s-word is said six times. The word d–n is used three times. The word h— as an expletive occurs six times. God’s name is misused five times, a Jesus’ name is used as an expletive once. P–ck is said twice. Variations on the word “a—are heard a half-dozen times (including in subtitles when people speak Italian). Lina and Lorenzo say “screw ‘em” in anger directed at the people who did not let him into a cooking school a few times each, and Lina calls them “b–tards’ sons of b–ches” before apologizing to Lorenzo. The British profanities “b—locks and “bloody” are used. A derogatory word for for a sleazy person is used twice, and an offensive term for loose women is used once. An offensive word for a homosexual woman is used once.
Early in the film, Francesca tells Lorenzo to go get drunk because he had just graduated. Francesca mentions grabbing a drink with a guy, and Lina and Alessandro have glasses of wine together.
Lina mentions that she does not do drugs when she is led into an edgy looking street. Lina drinks quickly from a glass of wine after becoming upset at Alessandro, and she later appears intoxicated.
Addie uses photoshop to present a false version of herself and Lina (without her permission) on social media, which she justifies by saying she is creating their brands.
Francesca and Addie imply that not going to parties and getting together with guys is boring and a waste of life. They both urge her to get together with a guy and enjoy herself however she sees fit. The movie seems to conclude that having a wild and free time away will be important to a young person’s development. Francesca says a good rule for love is that if a person of the opposite gender “moves” you, you should go for it.
Alessandro has strained relationship with his father. This causes Alessandro to break the rules repeatedly.
The presentation of life is a bit unrealistic when it comes to money and relationships, indicating that everyone deserves a time in their life to enjoy themselves without consquences or hard work.
A part of the song “Forever Young” by Alphaville and a clean section of “Woman” by Doja Cat can each be heard once in the background. Both of these songs convey the same nihilistic message that the film conveys about pleasure seeking.
[Spoiler warning] Lina attempts to talk to her dad, who left her mom when she got pregnant. He refuses to meet with her, and she steals a valuable picture he took of her mom off of the wall of his gallery.
Lina lashes out at Howard during one dinner because she believes he has lied to her and is secretly her biological father.
Addie indicates that Lorenzo’s girlfriend is not relevant but Alessandro’s money is relevant to her decision about which of them to date.
This adaptation of the young adult novel by Jenna Evans is sometimes sad, sometimes fun, and sometimes misguided. Is all that really matters in life love and gelato?
This movie has elements of a fun escape to a beautiful country and culture. The onscreen relationships are romantic and some scenes are funny. We can even find some decent messages about family in the mix. However, this film can slip into feeling cliché and hollow. Lina seems to learn throughout the movie to abandon most of her self-control in favor of self-discovery.
The target audience of this film is teenagers, but some of the content is problematic. Parents should be aware of the potentially destructive messages, the adult language, and the suggestive dialogue in this film before deciding to navigate or avoid this film.
Marsella Evans is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2022.