Julie, you’re great. So great. And the time that we’ve shared together—it’s just been so…great?
You sure about that, Brandon? Because dumping your girlfriend of four years the night before a week-long excursion to her dream city, Verona, seems a bit contradictory.
But Julie isn’t going to let Brandon ruin her trip. She confirms her reservation at La Villa Romantica and hopes the City of Love will heal her heartbreak.
Only, things don’t go quite as planned.
First, her flight is delayed. A toddler in the row behind her screams the entire time while her older sibling kicks the back of Julie’s seat. She spills a drink on herself. Then the airline loses her baggage, and she has to buy a cheesy tourist sweatshirt to hide her stained clothes. And by the time she makes her way out of the airport, the only “taxi” available is a man named Uberto—and let’s just say his driving style (not to mention lack of functional seatbelts) leaves much to be desired.
But it’s all OK, because Julie is finally in the city made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, her favorite story. Moreover, La Villa Romantica shares a courtyard with Casa di Giulietta, which is rumored to have inspired Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
Unfortunately, she isn’t the only tenant.
Due to a booking mishap, British businessman Charlie is staying at the Villa as well. And since all the other hotels are full due to a wine expo, they have two choices: go home or share the space.
Well, leaving isn’t an option for Charlie since he’s working the expo. And Julie doesn’t exactly have the time or resources to reschedule her trip for another time.
Perhaps it’s destino, their landlord, Silvio, tells them.
Yeah, or a nightmare.
Though they butt heads at first, Julie and Charlie realize they actually have a lot in common. For starters, they’re both the type of people who always have a plan—if in a negative sort of way. (I mean, it’s one thing to print out an itinerary for a trip. It’s another to laminate that itinerary and schedule a specific time for “spontaneity.”) But having their plans so wholly ruined helps them both to loosen up a bit. And eventually they exchange genuine apologies for their behaviors.
Charlie says the reason he continues to work a job he hates (he calls his cubicle his “practice coffin”) is because he’s afraid of taking risks. But he realizes that if he truly wants to be happy, he needs to follow his heart instead of his head.
Similarly, Julie realizes that she only stayed with Brandon for so long because he felt safe, not because she loved him.
Charlie gives Julie some bad advice, saying that if she wants to win Brandon back, she should delete his voicemails and block his calls since men usually want what they can’t have. She follows the advice to block Brandon but says she won’t give him another chance since he treated her so poorly. Charlie applauds this decision, as do many tourists who accidentally learn Julie’s story.
Julie and Charlie discuss the concept of fate. Julie argues that destiny is real—especially as it pertains to love. Charlie believes that removing the role of choice takes the romance out of it. However, they find a compromise and agree that people can be destined to be together, but they must choose to accept it.
Verona has several traditions—such as writing letters to Juliet and pasting them on the wall outside her house, or placing locks on the fence outside the property—that supposedly grant the participant luck in love.
A man crosses himself. People drink “to good fortune,” and a man says, “God knows I need it.”
Two couples kiss. When Charlie and Julie first meet, she accidentally walks in on him in his underpants. Julie wears some outfits that show some skin. Julie says her parents used to make out a lot because they were so in love.
Based on the available sleeping arrangements, it’s implied that two different couples planned to share beds with their partners (and probably more than that) during their trips. Notably, Charlie and Julie always sleep in separate rooms, even after a romantic evening together.
Julie’s best friend from home is gay. Silvio admits he has a wife and a girlfriend (and that they don’t know about each other). Charlie compares getting back together with an ex to taking a shower and then putting on dirty underwear. Charlie says his dad always feared losing his mom, and wonders if they split up because his dad was right or because his mom was tired of her husband expecting her to leave him.
One particularly crude Verona tradition is for tourists to place their hands on the breast of Juliet’s statue and make a wish. We see several people do this, and one man comments how creepy it is since Juliet was supposedly 13-years-old when the story took place.
[Spoiler Warning] Charlie nearly kisses Julie, but he stops himself. We later learn his fiancée told him she wanted a “break.” And it’s implied he wanted to end things properly with her before starting anything with Julie.
Julie is nearly run over by several mopeds. A snake feeds on dead mice. Two people have a food fight, sometimes throwing glass dishes at each other in the process (though no one is harmed, they do break a window). There are several references to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet (which was a mutual suicide).
We hear the Italian equivalent of the s-word, merda, three times. There are a couple uses of “a–,” “h—” and “p-ss,” as well as the British expletives “bloody” and “bollocks.” God’s name is abused seven times and Christ’s name is abused twice. (A woman repeatedly exclaims “OMG” as well.) Someone tells Julie to stop letting men “bust her b-lls.”
People drink wine throughout the film and sometimes become inebriated. At one point, Julie pours almost an entire bottle of wine into her glass and asks for a straw since she is too drunk to hold it in her hands. There are references to hangovers.
Because Charlie works for a company as a wine taster, he spits the beverage into a bucket when he is working to avoid becoming drunk. Charlie says he wants to open his own vineyard someday.
Julie and Charlie torture each other their first few days sharing the villa in attempts to convince the other to leave. Julie purposely lures about 20 cats into Charlie’s room to trigger his allergies. She then gets him arrested, nearly costing him his job. Charlie gets Julie’s luggage donated to an orphanage by claiming she was admitted to an insane asylum. He then posts pages from her diary to the wall of Casa di Giulietta along with a picture of her to embarrass her. He also tricks her into thinking she ate horse meat.
People lie. Julie’s friend bet money that Brandon would break up with her. A man is mocked by police. Two people boast about their romantic partners in an attempt to one-up each other. There is a reference to Kathy Bates’ character in Misery. A man heavily tips a bagboy in embarrassment since his girlfriend had an obscene amount of bags.
Julie and Charlie shouldn’t work together.
Much like Romeo and Juliet’s families, the pair spend most of their first few days together fighting.
But, as Silvio tells them, “l’amore trova una via”—love finds a way.
Spending so much time together—even if that time is spent terrorizing each other—teaches them both to let go of their respective preconceived notions. They realize that love can appear in the most unexpected of places.
The film is largely free of explicit content. A few expletives from across the pond do appear, and there are some implied premarital relations. In those areas, Love in the Villa still does have a bit more content than you’d expect to find in your typical, squeaky clean Hallmark movie.
But even though both characters here are flawed people, in some ways, they’re kind of likeably awesome, too. Which makes them … flawesome.
That’s a pretty good word to sum up Love in the Villa’s flawed charm, too. But for a Netflix romcom, this flawesome story is probably about as good as it gets.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her fiancé indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.