Anyone who has spent any time dating in London knows it’s an exhausting experience. There are the hours spent trawling dating apps, the arduous yet hopeful back and forth with a match, and then there’s setting aside a precious evening, in order to find out if they’re a psychopath.
When they’re not, there are usually around four dates before one of you slips away, getting the ick over something absolutely insignificant.
Fortunately, there is an antidote for taking part in this traumatic cycle: they would include dinners, concerts, sports and club nights with loved ones, as well as (importantly) evenings spent at home watching films and TV.
Which is why Choose Love, a new interactive rom-com landing on Netflix today, seems like a terrible idea. Who wants to have to engage in making a second round of dating decisions during these precious hours of recuperation, however fictitious and light-hearted?
Choose Love stars Laura Marano as Cami, a woman who begins to question her relationship with boyfriend Paul (Scott Michael Foster). She has been thinking a lot about first love Jack (Jordi Webber) as well as rock star Rex Galier (Avan Jogia), and the film gives you the opportunity to choose who she will end up with. The film offers several possible endings, which indicates that there’ll be everything from happy unions, to fall-outs, to reconciliations waiting behind each of its many doors.
Admittedly, there is something to the argument that getting to choose your own endings is the perfect way to engage with a romantic drama: the stakes really couldn’t be lower, and, just like organising Sims avatars, there’s something concerningly pleasing about playing God and watching characters act out your orders. Plus, part of the film’s selling point is that it can be revisited: each time the ending changes it offers a different watching experience.
Netflix’s first interactive rom-com also promises to be a laugh. It has been directed by Stuart McDonald, who made the Australian mockumentary Summer Heights High, and penned by Josann McGibbon, who co-wrote the 1999 American rom-com Runaway Bride. And Netflix has form in this area: in 2018, Black Mirror released Bandersnatch, a choose-your-own-ending horror where Fionn Whitehead played a tech developer losing touch with reality.
But while these points all may be true, ultimately there’s something unambitious about a film needing to change its endings in order to offer something new each time you watch it. The best films do this anyway. It also means there’s little real drama: if you can change the end, does it really matter if Cami chooses Rex and not Paul? Or Jack, not Rex?
Surely the reason we care about characters is because we know that one choice eliminates dozens of others. It’s what makes films, like life, such a thrill. “Cami’s fate is ultimately in your hands,” reads the film’s Netflix logline. No thanks.
Choose Love is available to watch on Netflix now