THEN CAME YOU

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Adriana Trigiani

Stars: Craig Ferguson, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ford Kiernan, Phyllida Law, Elizabeth Hurley.

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A formulaic romcom about two opposites who gradually grow attracted to each other Then Came You is something of a vanity project for Kathie Lee Gifford, the former tv talk show hostess, game show actress and sometime actress who also wrote the film.

Gifford plays Annabelle, a 60something widow who lost her beloved husband Fred in a tragic accident in their Nantucket hardware store a year ago. Annabelle gave up her showbiz aspirations to stand by the man she loved. But now she decides to move on with her life by taking a long round the world trip visiting all of the locations from her 20 favourite movies. Annabelle even carries Fred’s ashes around in a chocolate box, an homage to Forrest Gump, one of his favourite movies.

The first stop on her itinerary is a centuries old mansion in Loch Lomond Scotland. The Awd Inn is run by the crusty widower Howard (Craig Ferguson, from How To Train Your Dragon and tv sitcom The Drew Carey Show, etc). Howard and his best friend Gavin (Ford Kiernan, from Ken Loach’s comedy The Angels’ Share, etc) seem to be the only staff at the inn though. Annabelle and Howard initially don’t hit it off and they clash over everything from their taste in movies to their attitude to life. But the pair slowly begin to bond over shared drinks, laughs and chores. But it is revealed late in the movie that Annabelle actually has an ulterior motive for her visit to this picturesque corner of Scotland.

Then Came You (also previously known as Love You To Death) is the first feature script written by Gifford and although it does draw upon some of her own experiences it is far from semi-autobiographical. Then Came You is pretty predictable stuff that follows the familiar tropes of the genre and it will certainly resonate with audiences of a certain age. Most of the audience will be able to see where it is headed from the outset. Along with Grammy award winning producer Brett James, Gifford has also written most of the bland and fairly forgettable songs that appear in the film, including the title track.

This is the sophomore feature for best-selling author turned filmmaker Adriana Trigiani (2014’s melodrama Big Stone Gap), and her direction is relaxed and unhurried, and suits the tone of the film perfectly.

Gifford and Ferguson have shared a similar career trajectory – talk show hosts, game show hosts, television stars – which makes for an easy-going rapport between them. The role of the sarcastic, wise-cracking Howard is a perfect fit for Ferguson and was written especially for him. Ferguson particularly revels in the double entendres that litter the dialogue. Gavin is one of the more colourful and quirky characters in the film and Kiernan brings some spark to the tired formula in the role. Elizabeth Hurley contributes little more than a classy cameo as Clare, Howard’s rich and entitled fiancée, a hard-nosed businesswoman with grand designs for the old inn.

There is some breathtaking scenery of the Scottish landscape, beautifully shot in widescreen by cinematographer Reynaldo Villalobos (tv series Breaking Bad, etc), and the production design from Andy Harris (Sunset Song, etc) is sumptuous.

★★☆

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