Loving Annabelle review by Jettie Vanderveen

Loving Annabelle should have been so easy to watch. Step 1- Love is established. Step 2- Love is challenged. Step 3- Love is triumphant. To mix it up, writer-director Kathryn Brooks could have even thrown the audience a curve; maybe the characters have an epiphany that their love could never work or something along those lines. But no, Brooks had a story to tell and, by golly, she was going to make it as uninteresting as she possibly could have.

At first glance, Loving Annabelle appears to be the tale of two women in love with one another and are determined to overcome the condemnation of others. The classic “teacher loves student” scenario - the one that just can’t die - gets a new gimmick by casting both lead roles as women.

Erin Kelly plays the rambunctious Annabelle, a typical misunderstood teenager who’s been cornered into attending a Catholic boarding school after being expelled from two schools prior to when the picture begins. Soon after deciding she just doesn’t fit in, she falls in love with Simone (Diane Gaidry), an English teacher that can’t forget her past love in favor of her sexually unsatisfying boyfriend.

Ultimately, it is Simone who is persuaded into the affair by Annabelle, and while the filmmakers clearly intended to make love the driving force behind of both of the characters’ decisions, they make the unfortunate mistake of presenting such love only through thoughts and acts of lust. Unfortunately, while love is typically a noble enough cause, lust is just a hard thing to cheer on in this type of movie.

While Kelly and Gaidry do their best to play these parts, their affair is neither believable nor natural in any way. Overacting in some parts and little to none in others, the scenes feel choppy and lacking in any genuine feeling. In a film like this, the audience absolutely needs to feel for the characters so that we can root them and their love on.

Despite that Simone might finally return Annabelle’s “love,” the viewer doesn’t even care by the time the story starts showing signs of passion. In a movie that’s supposed to be about forbidden love, 70 minutes seems like an awfully long time to wait for a kiss!

It’s needless to say that when word gets out about their sinful affaire, there’s all sorts of trouble. But all of this interesting drama is crammed into the last 5 minutes of the film – simply too little too late.

The writing in this film is very poor. Simply put, it’s clichéd, and boring. There’s no depth to the characters at all as they all blend into the writer’s single voice as opposed to multidimensional facets of the same story, and the snail-paced, predictable plot makes it incredibly difficult to sit through. If you were to sleep through the first hour of this 79-minute flick, you would wake up to the exact same story as those who suffered through the grueling footage you were lucky enough to miss.

As for the ending, it can only be described as incomplete and sappy. There’s no closure to the story whatsoever, and no intrigue as to what’s going to happen to the characters. Perhaps if the writing was different (along with different characters, plot and direction, of course) the audience would leave the theater with brighter views of the film.

Some critics have praised this movie for being “intelligent,” but I really wonder what that means. Did they say this because the story was peppered with a few literary references in the scenes that take place in a classroom? Is that all it takes these days to make a movie the next Dead Poet’s Society?

With so much potential, this movie really should have at least been acceptable. However, shattered promises of an engaging film of a forbidden love are all that come from this cliché-laden movie. Loving Annabelle amounts to nothing more than a bad Lifetime Original movie with poor acting, washed-out characters, and a snail-paced plot that leaves you high and dry.

2 out of 10 Jackasses
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