2021, PG, 115 min. Directed by Brian Baugh. Starring Rose Reid, Jedidiah Goodacre, Katherine McNamara, Patrick Bergin, Saoirse-Monica Jackson.
REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., May 14, 2021
Finley Sinclair (Reid) is not like other girls, no. She’s different. She plays the violin, but even though she’s technically excellent, she no longer plays with heart. This is because her brother passed away recently. But after a particularly soulless audition, she decides she needs a new change of scenery, and follows in the footsteps of her late brother to study abroad in Ireland.
So, actually, Finley isn’t different at all. She’s just privileged. Finding You goes to great lengths to dress up Finley as a normal teenage girl, but her story plays more like wish fulfilment fanfiction. Finley finds herself in an incredible amount of unbelievable coincidences during the first act of her story: She hops on a plane and is immediately upgraded to first class, where she sits by famous “bad boy” movie star Beckett Rush (Goodacre), and becomes the focus of his attention because (she’s not like other girls, remember) she is immune to his celebrity. Then, the cruelest twist of fate! The host family she is staying with runs a bed and breakfast and out of pure serendipity, Beckett is staying there.
“Life is hard,” Finley lectures to Beckett, but the only hardship her character has faced is her brother’s untimely death, which is used as a token of mystery throughout the film until it’s revealed he was basically a saint and died saving refugees in the Middle East. But Beckett wouldn’t understand, because just being a famous actor means your life is cake. Alas, Beckett’s life is hard as well. His father-turned-manager not only controls his work life, but feeds tabloids lies about his romantic life with co-star Taylor Risdale (McNamara). Life is hard for these two American young adults who use the backdrop of Ireland to solve all their privileged problems.
Finding You is outrageous, and the will-they-won’t-they romance Finley starts up with Beckett is only a fraction of the overstuffed plot. Brian Baugh’s film feels like a 500-page novel, and that’s because it’s adapted from Jenny B. Jones’ YA hit There You’ll Find Me. In Ireland, Finley is also on the hunt for a grave her brother drew a picture of, she befriends a charming semi-homeless drunk fiddler who teaches her how to play from the heart, and for her only study-abroad class she has to befriend a frumpy elderly woman (you know, to understand Irish culture). It’s a busy, packed adaptation that doesn’t understand grief, love, or passion.
It’s as if Finding You was written by a computer program that studied 2000s rom-coms, taking the worst tropes and clunkily blending them together. The inherent issue is not its clogged plot, or its sexless romance, but Finley herself. Finley is a nothing character, as drab and dreary as the rainy weather she chooses to bike in. For a character who is experiencing the true pain of unexpectedly losing a sibling, she never mourns. Her journey following her brother’s path is heartless, and when you can’t connect to the film’s robotic protagonist, it doesn’t matter how many messy subplots you set up – everything feels uninspired.