Film Review: Love Is Thicker Than Water (2016)

A superlative cast can’t paper over the cracks of Love Is Thicker Than Water, a hokey and facile love story with little to commend it

“We’re having an argument and you give me a really expensive camera?
‘Yeah. Life’s a weird bitch'”

One of those films that I randomly came across and as soon as I saw the cast list, I knew I’d be watching it sooner rather than later. For who wouldn’t want a British indie rom-com with Lydia Wilson and Johnny Flynn, Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman, Ellie Kendrick and Al Weaver, even bonus Paul Chahidi. Sadly all this talent goes to waste in a love story that proves reductive in its class portrayal and generally insufferable in its attitudes.

Love Is Thicker Than Water was directed by Ate de Jong and Emily Harris, written by the former too. Wilson and Flynn play Vida and Arthur, worlds apart in their upbringing but fully in sync with their horniness and so a relationship begins. But as he is a working-class bike courier from Wales and she is a Jewish Londoner whose family money keeps her very comfortable, are they too different to make it work? 

As a premise, it feels stretched but the issue is exacerbated as de Jong introduces extended families for both and so the culture clash is played out writ large with a flurry of mostly poorly-defined supporting characters, siblings and parents whose interactions impact on Vida and Arthur to the extent that they’re ready to call it quits. The big twist, when it comes, is ridonkulous and pushes the film to new territory with a hard turn.

But even here, it is ill-equipped to deal with this darker shade of storytelling, little in the writing ever really convincing. Wilson and Flynn somehow conjure convincing chemistry, and their putative careers in music and animation are interestingly incorporated here. And naturally Stevenson and Goodman are great value for money but the end product feels rather shallow, nowhere near enough emotional purchase allowing us in. 

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