Netflix’s latest interactive movie, “Choose Love,” is an attempt to apply a dating simulator experience to a standard-issue rom-com. Its choose-your-own-adventure interface — like the one in the 2019 “Black Mirror” movie “Bandersnatch,” another Netflix production — allows viewers to make decisions for Cami Conway (Laura Marano), a young woman who suddenly finds herself having to choose between three suitors. The choices that viewers select with the click of a button (Should Cami kiss this man or dodge his advances? Should she wear this dress or that one?) will ultimately inform which guy she ends up with.
Except, there’s not as much choice left to the viewer as meets the eye. The movie’s opening scene is a tarot reading where you get to help Cami decide whether she wants “good news” or “bad news” first. But either way, it’s the same set of cards. After a pleasant but banal double-date night with her long-term boyfriend, Paul (Scott Michael Foster), she runs into an erstwhile high school heartthrob, Jack (Jordi Webber), while dropping her niece off at school, learning that he’s now a professional photographer with humanitarian priorities. He takes pictures of children for charity.
She meets her third suitor, a famous pop musician named Rex Galier (Avan Jogia), when he rents out space at the recording studio where she works as a sound engineer. Rex asks for her advice on a new track he’s producing, and — whether or not you pick “lie and say it’s good” or “brutal honesty” — he takes a liking to her expertise and asks her to record with him. Cami’s longtime dream of a singing career is reawakened, and she finds herself faced with three potential life paths: play it safe, reconnect with the one who got away or chase stardom with a famous beau.
The interactive features in “Choose Love” more or less boil down to two or three pivotal scenes that determine which man Cami will spend her life with — and of course, as the credits roll, Netflix encourages you to go back and click a different button for an alternative ending. If only the film were compelling enough to warrant that.
While “Bandersnatch” and Netflix’s other attempts at interactive storytelling, like the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” special “Kimmy vs. The Reverend,” were not without their flaws, their unpredictability — whether through dystopian thrills or comedic timing — kept the gimmick somewhat afloat. But the main selling point of “Choose Love,” directed by Stuart McDonald, seems to be that viewers get to pick which stale rom-com trope they see play out onscreen. Predictability aside, “Choose Love” resembles less of a comforting rom-com than it does the forgone conclusion to streaming’s algorithm-powered media: a series of disconnected, shallow interactions, each leading to a different predetermined cliché.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 17 minutes. Watch on Netflix.