What Australia hasn’t become known for over the years are great romance films – in fact it is hard to name too many good ones – although that may change with director Christine Luby’s (Dive Club) brand-new romantic feature This Little Love of Mine.
Written by Georgia Harrison (Rip Tide) and filmed in the Australian state of Queensland, This Little Love of Mine centres around an ambitious young lawyer named Laura (Saskia Hampele – A Few Less Men) whose chance of becoming a partner at the prestigious American law firm she works at hinges on her travelling back to the island paradise that she grew up on and convince her childhood friend Chip (Liam McIntyre – The Legend of Hercules) to agree to take over the business empire set up by his grandfather.
The catch is Chip is not interested in the position. He is more than happy working as a tour boat operator alongside another childhood friend of Laura’s, Gem (Lynn Gilmartin – How Do You Know Chris?), and he has no interest at all in becoming a business owner despite the wealth that it would bring him.
Most people will predict the territory that This Little Love of Mine will head into from a very early point in the film – but the joy of this film lies in the journey that it takes to get there… and of course the beautiful surroundings. Yes, while the film’s plot doesn’t exactly say where the island is that Chip, Laura and Gem call home the film does almost serve as a tourism ad for Queensland and Australia.
Harrison’s screenplay never tries to make this film anything that it isn’t. Any hints of comedy that do shine through are natural and not overwritten and much of that comes to rest on Gem and another resort worker – Karavi (Lawrence Ola – Cloudy River). That works well not only because Ola quickly reveals that he has great comedic timing but because it allows the ‘friendship/relationship’ between Laura and Chip to flow along nicely.
The plot of the film also allows for a decent exploration into whether wealth is more important than happiness. For much of this movie Laura spends her time trying to convince Chip what he could do with his newfound wealth while he tries to explain that he has happy and he tries to convince and show her that while she might be successful with her career she is far from happy – especially with her fiancé Owen (Craig Horner – See No Evil). The moral that ‘home is where the heart is’ often raises its head throughout the film as well.
Once again as a screenwriter Harrison never over-writes anything and instead puts incredible emotion into the film. The scenes between Laura and Chip have real heart to them as they explore their past friendship, but often Harrison also has the sense to infuse these scenes with suspense as well as the audience is left wondering whose dream is going to come true and whose is going to be left shattered.
Credit also has to be made to Liam McIntyre and Saskia Hampele who are amazing in their roles. Both seem to be able to mix drama and comedy well and it is easy to see that McIntyre could easily become a Hollywood leading man while Hampele is a star in the making as well.
With a postcard perfect setting and a storyline that is well and truly above what we normally expect to see in a romance film, This Little Love of Mine is an Australian film that deserves to be on the world stage. This is certainly one of the surprises of 2021.
This Little Love of Mine is available on Netflix in Phuket now.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus