Love is Thicker Than Water Review
Films very rarely portray relationships accurately, couplings are complicated and complex things of oddity, two people out of seven billion others on this planet somehow gravitate towards each other. Films seem to promote this idea of “love at first sight” and paint this rosy picture that love is rather a straightforward journey; couple meet, fall in love, get married, have a baby and die in each others’ arms. As a result; I often find myself bored with romantic films. I can suspend my disbelief for any other genre, I can buy into the concept of superheroes, artificial intelligent time-travelling robots and a dinosaur theme park, but somehow when presented with a film that has a plot centred around the concept of true love, I struggle. Maybe, I am just that kind of glass half-empty type of person?
So, it was much to my pleasant surprise to be moved to tears by Emily Harris and Ate de Jong’s Love is Thicker Than Water. On paper, it sounds like every other romantic comedy/drama. Lower-class Welsh boy (Johnny Flynn) meets upper middle-class girl (Lydia Wilson) and despite their different backgrounds and upbringings, the two fall in love, move in together and get engaged. Throw in some tension and drama via the two lovers’ eccentric and interfering families and you have the ingredients that make up nearly every star-crossed lovers tale. Only Love is Thicker Than Water has charm, it has weight and isn't afraid to be real. It presents two likeable but flawed main characters, Arthur and Vida who are fully developed and rounded characters with their own distinct personality traits, annoying little habits (like refrigerating peanut butter or leaving the kitchen sink overflowing with dishes) and their own pasts.
Both couples inevitably bring their families and all the drama that surrounds them into their relationship and we discover that Vida's mother Ethel (Juliet Stevenson) has an earth-shattering secret and Arthur's father is suffering from depression after the loss of his eldest son. Vida's family have some serious doubts about the relationship and see Arthur as a layabout and a leech. Whereas, Arthur's family see Vida as being a stuck-up snob who looks down her nose at them. However, just like real life everyone in the film is faced with some hard realities and tough decisions to make, and to progress in their lives, their careers and their future Vida and Arthur have to make a difficult choice to put themselves or the lives of their family members first.
The cast is strong, and the supporting actors shine without stealing the limelight from the two leads. Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones’ Meera Reed) delivers comic relief as Vida's sarcastic and witty younger sister, Helen. Henry Goodman is a perfect choice for Vida's caring and sympathetic father, Levi - a man desperately trying to cling onto his family and Sharon Morgan is wonderfully amusing as Arthur's no nonsense mother, Sara, who isn't afraid to speak her mind. Although it is Flynn and Wilson who shine in this film, they seem to be so natural as a couple that it's easy to forget you're watching a film. The chemistry between them is strong and so convincing that their onscreen relationship mirrored my own. Love is about accepting someone with all of the baggage and flaws that come with them.
The film has some quirky animated short scenes which create an original and unique look and style to the film and allows it to stand apart from other Indie rom-coms like What If and The Big Sick. It also flirts with the use of split screen, seen in other quirky anti rom-coms like The Rules of Attraction and (500) Days of Summer. Love is Thicker Than Water certainly has the same charm and is a nice alternative to the overly sweet romantic melodramas based on Nicholas Sparks novels which seem to plague our cinemas. The story, the characters, and the situations they find themselves are realistic. It's a film that is so much more than just a date movie, it has soul, empathy and charm in bucket loads and even the most cynical will be moved enough to be cheering for the boy and girl to live happily ever after.