The thing that I’ve learned about rom-coms is, even when they’re predictable, sloppily made or poorly acted, it’s pretty hard to make one that’s not at least a little bit entertaining and/or engrossing. Really think about it. How often has a will-they-won’t-they plotline completely failed to tickle your interests at least slightly? On how many occasions has that final, long-awaited kiss not managed to resuscitate the inner romantic you stow away, even for a fleeting moment? Indeed, making a rom-com that’s flat-out uninteresting and laborious is a pretty impressive feat. But now and then, such an impressive feat is achieved. Most recently, it was presented in the form of F*ck Love Too, a follow-up to the poorly-received 2019 Dutch comedy F*ck de liefde, directed by Appie Boudellah and Aram van de Rest.
F*ck Love Too follows an ensemble cast who just can’t seem to crack the mysteries of love and, as a result, engage in an impressive series of social gaffes. At the center of this anarchic cast is level-headed Lisa (Bo Maerten), who unwittingly finds herself in the center of a love triangle with two smooth-talking fellas while on her less put-together friend Kiki’s (Nienke Plas) tasteful Ibiza bachelorette party.
Only a small fraction of F*ck Love Too examines this unforeseen triad, though, because the film has more characters than one could possibly keep track of. There’s Lisa’s ex, the pig-headed, egotistical Jack (Edwin Jonker), who has managed to get not one but two women pregnant at the same time, (unbeknownst to one another, of course): His new wife/Lisa’s ex-best-friend Cindy (Victoria Koblenko) and short-term fling Monica (Anouk Maas). Jack’s best friend Said (Maurits Delchot) is having marital problems of his own with successful and stubborn Bo (Yolanthe Cabau). Oh, and there’s also an island escort, a quirky couple’s counselor, a hapless bachelorette and more. You get the picture, right?
There’s a reason that this multiple-storyline device is so popular in the rom-com genre. It maximizes potential for humor and romantic catharsis, easily highlighting just how messy the game of love can really get. For this to work, though, you have to have at least a few couples that have chemistry or, at the bare minimum, are compelling on their own. F*ck Love Too has a grand total of zero of these things.
This failure can be attributed to the screenplay, which miraculously took four writers (Appie Boudellah, Mustapha Boudallah, Sergej Groehhart and Shariff Nasr) to tackle. The actors give it their best shot, doing what they can with the material (or lack thereof), but the bland and uneventful script leaves the cast with little else to do but show up and say their lines. It is impossible to care about or connect with the characters of F*ck Love Too because they are provided with absolutely no substance outside of their predictable romantic relationships. We know that Lisa, for example, cannot seem to stop besmirching herself in the eyes of her besotted suitors. But why should we care about her transgressions? What are her interests? Talents? Dreams? And, perhaps most importantly, how the hell are she and her friends paying for this luxury trip to Ibiza?
Similarly, Lisa’s admirers have no life beyond pining after her, and even still, we don’t know why they are so infatuated with her to begin with, or what excellent potentials their relationships might contain. The same goes for long-married couple Bo and Said, whose relationship is apparently worth fighting for. Boudellah and van de Rest don’t bother showing us an ounce of that supposed marital bliss. We just have to take their word for it, I guess. What’s so frustrating is that this cast obviously has chops—a fact that comes through every now and then when the script allows a performer to show a subtle flicker of melancholy, disappointment or longing. But at certain points, it is clear that even the actors are bored with their characters’ one-dimensionality.
For a movie that is razor-focused on the romantic experiences of a cast of characters, F*ck Love Too is missing all the important pieces of a satisfying romance. It’s sorely lacking any raciness and the editing is languid, lacking urgency with regards to lovers finally coming together. Boudellah and van de Rest sporadically attempt to make up for this low energy with the redundant and cloying ploy of simply playing the same upbeat club music when we cut to the girls partying in Ibiza. It’s depressing to see a film miss the mark in so many ways within such a by-the-numbers genre, but who knows? Perhaps by F*ck Love Three, this directing duo and writing quartet will finally have a grasp on what makes a rom-com tick.
Director: Appie Boudellah, Aram van de Rest
Writers: Appie Boudellah, Mustapha Boudellah, Sergej Groenhart, Shariff Nasr
Stars: Bo Maerten, Yolanthe Cabau, Mauritius Delchot, Bettina Holwerda, Dorian Bindels, Défano Holwijn, Edwin Jonker, Victoria Koblenko, Anouk Maas, Kraantje Pappie, Nienke Plas, Geza Weisz
Release Date: May 20, 2022 (Netflix)
Aurora Amidon is a film journalist and passionate defender of Hostel: Part II. Follow her on Twitter for her latest questionable culture takes.