It’s a little hard to get worked up about the problems of the star-crossed lovers at the center of David Mahmoudieh’s romantic drama. One is a handsome and famous U.S. soccer star whose chiseled features seem certain to guarantee him endless mega-rich endorsement deals. And the other is a Russian woman, and mother of an adorable little boy, who’s so drop-dead gorgeous she could be a supermodel. By the time these two crazy kids overcome the storyline’s ludicrously contrived obstacles for the requisite happy ending, any normal viewer of See You Soon will be despairing over their own lot in life.
Yes, the characters certainly have problems in the screenplay co-written by Mike Cestari and Jenia Tanaeva. The latter also co-stars as Lana, who is trapped in an unhappy marriage to an abusive lout (Oleg Taktarov) who drinks too much and makes scenes in quiet restaurants. Temporarily leaving her son with her loving grandmother, Lana lands a temporary job as a bartender on a cruise ship.
Makes ‘Cinderella’ seem grittily realistic.
That’s where she meets Ryan (Australian heartthrob Liam McIntyre, star of the Spartacus TV series), who has escaped to the relative solitude of the ship after suffering a possibly career-ending leg injury in a drunken driving incident and ditching his money-hungry fiancee (Poppy Drayton). Although Ryan is mostly interested in drinking his woes away and Lana is technically still married, it isn’t long before they become romantically interested in each other despite their very different social status. When Lana gets fired after returning to the ship late the next morning after they spend a chaste night sleeping on a beach, they head to a tropical resort together (where they finally do the deed, because people this impossibly good-looking shouldn’t sleep together for the first time except in the most gorgeous of settings).
Ryan is instantly smitten, and expresses interest in taking the relationship to the next level. But that would make for a fairly short, uneventful film. So Lana, apparently having watched An Affair to Remember far too many times, suggests instead that they meet again in two months in a St. Petersburg public square. “Come find me in Saint Petersburg,” she implores, delivering a line not likely to rival “Come with me to the Casbah” in cinema history.
It won’t be hard for viewers to guess that the rendezvous won’t go off as planned, despite Lana having ditched her husband in the meantime. The ensuing melodramatic plot developments, which include Lana’s little boy suffering a potentially fatal brain injury and Ryan being asked by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to visit sick kids in a hospital, are the stuff of which truly bad movies are made. By the time Ryan makes a death-defying leap over a drawbridge and then makes a spectacular comeback at a championship soccer match, you’ll be unlikely to hear the dialogue over the guffawing of the audience.
See You Soon is not exactly hard to watch, thanks to the physical charms of its charismatic leads who at times even manage to suspend our disbelief that they’re playing actual human beings. The Russian-born Tanaeva, making her screen debut in this vehicle she crafted for herself, will likely be able to parlay the big-screen exposure to future roles. It’s easy to understand why she’s in the film; the reason for the presence of Harvey Keitel, as Ryan’s beleaguered agent, will probably remain a mystery.
Production companies: Rising Moon Productions, eMotion Entertainment
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Cast: Liam McIntyre, Jenia Tanaeva, Harvey Keitel, Poppy Drayton, Oleg Taktarov
Director: David Mahmoudieh
Screenwriters: Jenia Tanaeva, Mike Cestari
Producers: Jenia Tanaeva, Monella Kaplan
Executive producers: Alexander Mikhalaskiy
Director of photography: Eric Maddison
Editor: Julie Garces
Composer: Mark Isham
Costume designer: Susanna Song
Casting: Victor Jenkins
Rated R, 107 minutes