The Swedish romantic comedy Love and Lemons (Sma citroner gula) is a sweet but ultimately predictable love story taking place in the restaurant world. Agnes is desperate to work her way up in the restaurant world and when she finally gets her chance to prove herself she makes a key error that lands her without a job and, upon discovering her boyfriend is cheating on her, without someone to lean on. In an amusing meet cute Agnes meets David when she drunkenly mistakes his apartment for her own resulting in a tentative friendship for the two. With no job and no boyfriend Agnes is the furthest from her dreams she can be but when he friend offers her the chance to become a partner in a restaurant she jumps at the chance to be able to create the type of food she wants. The only thing holding Agnes back from making her dreams come true is the amount of money needed to invest to get the restaurant off the ground. Knowing that this is her only dream, Agnes’ mother gives her the money she had been saving for a trip to Europe. With the finances in place Agnes and her friends embark on creating a restaurant that will allow them to make the type of food they want and give people an experience they won’t forget. In traditional romantic comedy after there are extended montages of walls being painted and menus are agreed upon as Agnes and her neighbor David begin to grow closer and closer.
However, what Agnes comes to realize is that David is not only her neighbor but also a prominent food critic hiding behind the non-de plume Lola. Suddenly Agnes sees a surefire way to get a food critic to the restaurant and gain the recognition that will drive the customers to the restaurant and help turn a profit. She manipulates David into going to her restaurant and thinks it will be impossible that the food could not inspire an excellent review. This is a romantic comedy so of course things don’t go as planned, David writes a scathing review and Agnes’s secret is ultimately revealed when she accidentally reveals she knew that he was a food critic the whole time their friendship was becoming stronger. David, thinking that he was being used by Agnes, avoids her while she is struggling to turn a profit in the restaurant and not let her mothers money go to waste. In the midst of her struggles Agnes’s mother suddenly falls ill and after being in the hospital for and extended time, eventually dies. Full of grief and facing bankruptcy in the restaurant Agnes makes one more ditch effort to create something great and make food the way she wants. In the two weeks they have left to turn ad profit and save themselves from financial ruin, Agnes takes the book of recipes her mother collected on her honeymoon in Europe and transforms the restaurant into the warm place she envisioned. Of course things go wrong and just when failure looks imminent, Agnes is able to cook like she never has and save the restaurant.
Romantic comedies have a certain formula that they stick to and the good ones are those that deviate from the standard equation. This film, while being a sweet story that allows you to look at some good food for an hour is ultimately a formulaic romantic comedy whose plot could be predicted in the first half hour.
See it October 6th, 7 pm at Fox Bay Cinema Grill and October 8th, 1 pm at Avalon theatre.