Friday, December 2, 2022

Love Tactics (2022)

Aslı is a fashion designer, and secretly the brains behind Love Tactics, a romantic advice blog. After a doubtful comment, she is inspired to prove a point to her followers-She can use her relationship science to make any man fall in love with her. Meanwhile, ad executive Kerem makes a similar bet with his friends. By chance, the two meet at a party, and soon get acquainted. A series of further coincidences see the couple grow closer, and without even realising it, their game is no longer fake...

A very new rom-com, Love Tactics is a co-production between Turkish film studio BKM and Netflix. That might raise some eyebrows, but I have a fair amount of trust in Turkey's current crop of cinema (even if many Turks don't), and they've found themselves a good niche. It must be their dream to get some sweet American money!

The story here is self aware, with both the man and woman thinking they're in charge, trying to show how love is all a big load'a bunkum. Naturally they fall head over heels for real, and it's every bit as cliched as you're expecting. This is hardly a surprising movie, and every big moment is pretty obvious, but it's the kind you go into looking forward to seeing them play out. It also never feels obnoxious with its self-referential attitude to cliches, to my relief.

While knowingly cheesy, the writing is quite good. Despite the cynical main characters, the movie is never mean spirited. I think these elements feed off each-other. Their cynicism helps Love Tactics avoid being too schmaltzy, while the rom-com cheesiness keeps the movie charming.

The romance is handled quite well, cliches and all. There's one scene in particular that feels straight outta Ghost, with its pottery class. It can also be sickeningly sweet in a couple places, and made me groan at the screen.

The humour is pretty successful throughout. It never gets too vulgar, lazy, cheap, and has a good combination of everything. I especially liked the great swearing tirade near the end!

The characters are well-written, and manage to be likeable, despite both being ratbags. That's something I feel the movie excels in. Neither Aslı or Kerem are totally good, both having manipulative ulterior motives, but neither are truly bad, hence why they get swept along in their game. Their actions aren't necessarily wrong (Kerem's a player, but he's not a misogynist, and Aslı is just cynical), it's just their outlooks are coming from the wrong place.

The film has no subplots, it just goes straight from one scene to the next. Pretty refreshing! Not that there's a problem with subplots, but seeing a movie as straightforward as this nowadays was a real surprise. The only drawback is that we don't see the friends getting their own little vignettes, but I at least felt their parts were well written by the end.

While Love Tactics is one big cliche, it actually takes quite a few surprising routes with many of the little details. Namely, the movie turns conventions on their head by having it be the woman who does the worse offence, and has to go rushing to the airport.

The cast here are of particular note. Local heart-throb Şükrü Özyıldız does great as both a smooth player, and a genuine romantic figure. I was particularly impressed with Demet Özdemir, who I've seen before playing the lead in a goofy comedy (Turkish Dance School). Her performance here is so different it was almost hard to believe it was the same actress. The rest of the cast does well, from the skeezy client, to his sultry daughter, and all of the friends (One of whom looks just like a young Hüseyin Peyda!).

The direction here is quite good, and text message/blog post effects are overlaid fairly unobtrusively. Then there's the location work, which looks pretty spectacular, especially thanks to to the framing. Highlights include the outside dinner, and the balloon sequence.

All in all, this shows off the country as well as most Turkish films, but Love Tactics in particular feels like it was financed by the tourism commission. Mission accomplished then, I wanna go riding the balloons in Cappadocia! It's only tourists who can afford them nowadays anyway.

There's a lovely score here by 'Jingle Jungle'. Any worries that they might be a soulless paint-by-numbers outfit are quickly allayed by their charming music, and the ending track in particular is nice. Unless I'm going crazy, it sounds like it mixes social media 'likes' with the melody, in a neat way!

Love Tactics is a pleasant enough movie. Yes, it's cliched, and sure, it may be the product of a potentially soulless corporate union. But if nothing else, it's a fun time. If you like rom-coms, it can't hurt, and if you hate 'em but must watch for the sake of your girlfriend, it won't hurt too badly...

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