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Review: Melodrama ‘Irreplaceable You’ labors with love and loss

(L-R) - Michiel Huisman and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a scene from “Irreplaceable You.” Credit: Linda Kalle
Michiel Huisman and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the movie “Irreplaceable You.”
(Linda Kallerus / Netflix)

An appealing pair of leads, notable supporting players and a sincere story line still can’t make “Irreplaceable You” the authentic, deeply felt emotional ride it clearly aims to be, swinging and missing at a kind of nouveau, Brooklyn-set version of “Love Story.”

Like the film’s Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), whose cancer diagnosis sends her on a journey to find someone for nerdy-sexy fiancé Sam (Michiel Huisman) to love after Abbie’s death, the movie, directed by Stephanie Laing, tries too hard and too implausibly to fulfill what proves an uncomfortable, unworkable concept. To wit, the film’s first half is so annoyingly glib and faux-amusing, it sets a misguided tone that distances instead of engages.

Abbie’s search via dating apps and such for Sam’s next fiancée has so little momentum it pretty much vanishes in front of our eyes, giving way to a more urgent if not entirely gripping look at Abbie’s impending demise and Sam’s tenuous place therein.

Her time with cancer support group member Myron (Christopher Walken) and other attendees (including Kate McKinnon and an underused Steve Coogan) offers sporadic rings of truth, as do Abbie’s moments with her anxious mother (Tamara Tunie). But a late-breaking appearance by Myron’s wife (Jacki Weaver) feels tacked on.

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Bess Wohl’s script suffers from a major case of on-the-nose, often uninspired dialogue (“Let’s do this,” “We got this,” “You got this”) that is seriously … replaceable.

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‘Irreplaceable You’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

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Playing: Streaming on Netflix

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