It’s not quite the LGBT Hallmark movie it advertises, but it’s got some good points.
Jennifer Ortiz (Camilla Harden/Nia Fairweather) is a former Goldman-Sachs trader who has recently left to work as a veterinary assistant and is engaged to a man named David Wilks (Otoja Abit). During a dinner with her future in-laws (Tyra Ferrell and Tony D. Head), Jennifer finds David’s mother is insisting on controlling the wedding plans. Frustrated, Jennifer goes for a run and witnesses a man named Azrael (Cooper Koch) get hit by a car. Jennifer walks with him and he promises that tomorrow she will have changed perspective. She wakes up the next day only to find that she is engaged to her former best friend Gabrielle Vernaci (Adriana DeMeo). Gabrielle and Jennifer had a falling out when they were in High School and Gabrielle had died soon after. It turns out that Azrael is an angel and has transported her to an alternate Earth for a few days to show her what life might have been life if she had made some different decisions earlier in her life. Unfortunately, it seems that in this reality Jennifer and Gabrielle’s wedding is being complicated by Gabrielle’s desire to be married by their childhood priest Father Kelly (Chris Noth), who is barred by the Catholic Church from marrying two women. So, which wedding will Jennifer end up seeing?
I admit that I was really intrigued by the advertisement and premise of this film. While the idea of waking up in another world where you made different choices has been done to death, I actually think this movie distinguishes itself by having such a massively pronounced difference between the two realities. Jennifer’s life with Gabrielle wasn’t just different in the sense of being engaged to a different person, almost every aspect of it had diverged. Most films with this kind of premise take some stance about people ultimately being who they are no matter the circumstances, but Jennifer doesn’t have the same job, history, or social life in the alternate world. In some ways, I think that’s probably more accurate to how things would actually play out, so I give the film credit.
Actually, I give this movie a decent amount of respect for several things. Obviously, it should be respected for being an LGBT entry into the “Christmas Made-For-TV Movie” genre, something that is woefully light. Perhaps even more interestingly, both of the leads are bisexual, which is also an underrepresented class outside of Cinemax at 2 AM. It’s also one of the first movies in the genre in which the two leads are Black and Latina, even among heterosexual films. It also does a great job in casting. Not only are the child versions of the two leads both very well done, but most of the background cast actually looks appropriate for the location (Queens, NY). They’re not all the standard “above average” extras that we see in most Hallmark Christmas movies, and they’re much more diverse. All of the performances between the leads seem sincere and the dialogue is much more natural than you would expect from a film like this.
Part of the weakness of the movie is that it appears to have decided to pull a bunch of extra weirdness out of nowhere and for almost no payoff. I can’t really describe it without spoilers, but let’s just say that for a movie involving an angel sending a person to an alternate reality, they still made some very odd choices. I’ll also have to say that the film does suffer a bit from trying really hard to force its message more than it probably should. Then again, it’s a message that doesn’t impact me directly, so maybe it would seem more apt if it did. Oh, and the camerawork and some of the editing is fairly amateurish. Most of the time it fits in fine with the movie, but sometimes it gets distracting.
Overall, I will say that this movie is about 50% good and 50% weird and off-putting. I almost say it should be watched just because it is different, but it also just kind of drops the ball about two-thirds of the way in.
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