Film Review: Book Of Love is an entirely harmless and inherently sweet romantic comedy

“It was so long, I wish I’d watch paint dry instead!”

Not the most encouraging way to open a review.  Though, thankfully, I’m referring to the book “The Sensible Heart”, the novel-within-the-movie that Book Of Love‘s main character has written, and not Analeine Cal y Mayor‘s film itself.

Said writer is Henry Copper (Sam Claflin, seemingly content to pick up the slack now that Hugh Grant has vacated the genre), a stuffy though endearingly handsome Brit whose labour of love hasn’t exactly set the literary world ablaze; the “Buy 1, Take 3” signage accompanying his novel display cementing its decreasing interest.

Unwilling to accept reality, Henry’s perseverance of the belief that love can exist without passion is one that he finally thinks has merit when he’s told that his book has become a number one best seller.  That’s a number one in Mexico however, and wanting to strike whilst the iron is hot – or even remotely warm – Henry’s publisher, Jen (Lucy Punch, providing amusing support), sets him off for an international book tour, with his Spanish translator, Maria Rodriguez (Verónica Echegui), on hand.

Understandably confused, but delighted all the same that his words have reached an international audience, it doesn’t take long for the penny to drop for poor Henry when he realises that Maria’s translation has been a little, shall we say, loose, and his drab musings on love have been transformed into a Fifty Shades-esque romance novel that local readers have lapped up, likening it to their favourite telenovelas.

An aspiring writer herself, Maria has to swallow her pride in letting Henry take credit for the book’s success, and, in return, he the same in peddling a sex novel that he personally detests but has to accept as, without it (and Maria), he wouldn’t nearly be as universally beloved.

Given their animosity towards each other it’s quite obvious where David Quantick‘s script will travel, and that’s to the destination of having them work together when Jen pushes for a follow-up novel, entirely aware that it was Maria’s “translation” that spurred the book’s success.  As much as the film follows the romcom recipe to an almost methodically insulting degree – wanna bet that Maria has an ex who’s going to upset her and Henry’s inevitable union? – Book Of Love manages to get away with it as Mayor is intelligent enough to never let the story drag unnecessarily, letting both Claflin and Echegui sell the ludicrous premise and surprisingly witty punchlines along the way; it’s also to the film’s benefit that it’s just as much a comedy of errors as it is a road trip effort too.

Another entirely harmless and inherently sweet romantic comedy – a genre we’ve seemingly been spoiled with in the last month alone, with both Marry Me and I Want You Back breathing some life into a category that was in danger of being relegated to little more than Netflix fodder – Book Of Love is by no means going to redefine such a bracket, but it manages to entertain without resorting to too simplistic of humour and present a certain wholesomeness without falling on saccharine urges.


Book Of Love is screening in Australian theatres from March 10th, 2022

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.