Starring Jocelyn Hudon and Olivier Renaud
Luna (Hudon) is a former dancer who works in her family’s construction business, which is renovating an aerialist’s studio. One day, Luna experiments on the silks, drawing the attention of the aerialist, Bennett (Renaud). When Bennett learns that his partner won’t be performing with him at the local arts festival, his sister, Gabby (Candice Lidstone), who’s organizing the festival, urges him to find a replacement. Bennett would prefer to fly solo but reluctantly consents to taking on inexperienced Luna. The two have numerous issues to work through, hampering their chance of success both on the silks and in romance.
Jocelyn Hudon. The actress attended the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto and was well cast as an aerialist. When Hudon danced alone in the studio, her natural grace and athleticism shone. She also did an excellent job of showing us her character’s many facets. Luna was eager to prove that she could master the silks but hindered by a deep-rooted lack of confidence—not to mention a fear of heights (a phobia Bennett shared). Devoted to her family’s business, she was caught between not wanting to let them down and pursuing aerial acrobatics. She was sensitive enough that criticism really hurt, and except for her loving family, most people doubted her—the snooty journalist (Rebecca Applebaum) who assumed the show would be amateurish and put the audience to sleep; Gabby’s boss, Katrina (Stephanie Herrera), who, after seeing Luna take a hard fall, huffed that she wasn’t up to performing; and her toughest critic, Bennett, who hadn’t wanted a partner, let alone a beginner. Luna didn’t wither but stood up to him. I liked her determination to succeed despite expectations that she was doomed to fail.
High-flying aerialists. The highlight of this movie was watching Luna and Bennett perform their routine before an excited audience. Their performance was a love story, he said, and it showed their romantic connection. The routine built to an exhilarating climax in which they simultaneously plunged from a great height. This and the other aerialist scenes, including one that showed two street performers using rings in their act, were fun to watch and made this a unique Hallmark film.
A fear-reducing lesson. Once Bennett recognized Luna’s talent, he began building her confidence, especially when she began climbing higher on the silks than before. He demolished her fears by listing all the reasons she couldn’t possibly fail. Bennett had once let his fears dominate him, and he gave her a lesson in how to not to let that happen to her. I liked that Luna paid this forward to Katrina, who was a bundle of nerves before singing at the festival; Luna reassured her using Bennett’s technique.
Bennett’s negative qualities. Renaud, once a Cirque de Soleil acrobat, was a good choice for the role of an aerialist. And he was very convincing as an unpleasant guy—perhaps more convincing than he was as a romantic figure; Renaud’s chemistry with his co-star was only so-so. In Hallmark movies, it’s always better when an obnoxious male doesn’t remain that way for long, but in Romance with a Twist, Bennett’s aloofness and arrogance toward Luna was prolonged. She wasn’t his vision of an ideal partner, and at first he was harsh and condescending toward her. He didn’t care how she felt, wasn’t interested in getting to know her or allow her to know him, and wasn’t willing to provide her with any encouragement. Fortunately, his sister, Gabby, convinced him to give Luna a chance, and he became more forgiving, even apologetic. But even after he developed warm feelings for Luna, he was emotionally constipated—willing to decide for her that their relationship wouldn’t work (due to his upcoming tour) without even discussing his feelings with her. While Bennett did become a much more sympathetic and supportive character—a welcome development—this transformation began too late in the film.
A throwaway subplot. A professional singer, Audrey (Naomi Gaskin), sought someone to perform a duet with at the festival and selected Katrina after hearing her singing in her art studio. The partnership between Audrey and Katrina was given little screen time, making it underdeveloped; it felt like filler. During the festival, the two women sang an exceedingly ordinary rendition of “Give My Regards to Broadway,” which could have been omitted, along with the entire Audrey-Katrina subplot, with no harm done.
My grade for Romance with a Twist: B-
Caroline Kaiser is a professional book editor who specializes in fiction and memoirs, and she’s been guiding writers toward publication since 2007. Caroline is also the author of two ghostly mystery novels, Virginia’s Ghost and The Spirits of South Drive. Before she embarked on an editing and writing career, she spent many years working in a Toronto auction house as an antiques appraiser. Apart from curling up on the couch and drinking tea as she watches Hallmark movies, Caroline enjoys baking and exploring London, Ontario, the picturesque city she now calls home. Her website is www.carolinekaisereditor.com.