All the ingredients, through cast (one exception), direction, location and camera work, were present to make this English language remake of 'La Grande Seduction'(2003) a fine film, but the script tried to hold too close to the original and lost some of the elemental charm in translation.
Firstly, the romance fell short. I mean, the setting and characters were initially fine and the lens shots are gorgeous throughout. Truly the setting is primed for a rich story, but characters eventually(not the actors) seemed pasted and lacked the chemistry to achieve overall romance. If the scenes of Paul and Kathleen had been written better, and directed with care, a deeper tone would have surfaced. One that would have had their first meeting become a sticky thread that bound the narrative fabric, instead of simply creating a glaring conflict that literally was, in the end, resolved off screen (weak writing or production failure).
Secondly, if you are gonna translate another writers work, be creative without losing the essential elements. This story is charming through the gills (pun intended) and deserves more attention to details far beyond set design and actors. The direction could have been stronger had it paid closer attention to the idea and not the intent.
Cast was fun, Brendan was solid as usual, Taylor got it mostly. Oddly, I felt almost nothing from Liane beyond her strange, one-note blend of constantly pretty hostility. I could see her doing femme fatale roles much more suited to her skills and attitude, but not this role. Kinda iced it, really. Even the script was not to blame, there. Her last shot, fishing pole on shoulder, strolling on the beach with an almost stranger, looked entirely unnatural, forced. Giving more time and depth to their interactions would have gone further toward building a solid narrative. One more scene! As it ended, it sucks to be Paul, I guess. Ha ha.
The final shots were cute, but without closing the key romance, they felt tacked on, especially considering that they were inclusive to the opening (not closing) theme of the original film. Hollywood apparently was hoping the kids would be asleep before adding a splash of spice. Liberal insanity.
Oh, and also, the soundtrack, in comparison, was completely unremarkable. I can't recall a single note.
All in all, a well recommended film despite the poorly explored romantic elements.
The original, well, that's another story. Good night.