One True Loves review – sassy love triangle romcom slathered in life lessons

Adapted from the eponymous novel by BookTok favourite Taylor Jenkins Reid, this sanitised melodrama is so algorithm-baked and slathered in life lessons it makes butane-sniffing seem like the preferable option. Phillipa Soo plays Emma, a Massachusetts bookseller caught in the living hell of a Shang-Chi/Point Break sandwich: about to marry her childhood best friend Sam (Simu Liu), she is bowled over when previous hunk of a husband Jesse (Luke Bracey) – who went missing in a helicopter crash on their first wedding anniversary – suddenly turns up with full Robinson Crusoe beard.

Jesse actually has been trapped on a desert island for four years. But that’s the level of subtlety Andy Fickman’s mercilessly photogenic love triangle operates on, initially hyping up Emma and Jesse’s digital nomad lifestyle: she’s a journo filing hot dispatches on “Five Beijing street foods to start your days”, he’s an aspiring documentary-maker. When he goes MIA, Emma seeks solace running the family bookstore and being fed a recovery diet of Thoreau and Joan Didion by her sister. All the better for us to be later caught up in optimally configured romantic agony when she realises that, with a fiance and a husband on the go, she loves both men equally.

Told in alternating flashback from the Maine hideaway in which Emma takes refuge with the prodigal hubby and the story of her bounceback with Sam, One True Loves does a plausible enough job of fleshing out these emotional pivots. The self-helpish proviso is that she is working out which Emma she wants to be. But there is little payoff, with Fickman running shy of the full-blooded commitment to make his film a proper weepie and instead constantly reverting to sassy, annoyingly self-aware comedy that makes light of everything. Saddled with the bulk of this faintly patronising shtick, like the extended scene in which he deliberates over his love life in front of his music students, the prim but charismatic Liu emerges best of the lead trio.

• One True Loves is available on Amazon Prime Video on 3 May.