Carmen Bryce waves her critical wand over whimsical romcom Irish Wish.

Everything about Irish Wish feels reassuringly familiar and comfortingly numbing.  The film has the paint-by-numbers predictability of a Hallmark movie and all the fiddly-dee of an American-made romcom set in the mystical Emerald Isles. Even the clumsy charm of our red-haired protagonist Maddie, played by Lindsey Lohan, feels warmly nostalgic if not a little sad to an audience who grew up watching the actor on our screens in the noughties. 

Lohan plays hapless American book editor Maddie who is secretly smitten with Irish author and walking red flag Paul (Alexander Vlahos). Alas, after a whirlwind romance, Paul is to marry her best friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan). As they arrive in Ireland for the wedding, a heartbroken Maddie makes a ‘Freaky Friday’ style wish that she could be Paul’s bride instead, just as handsome English photographer James (Ed Speleers) comes on the scene. Will Maddie’s wish to live happily ever after with the man of her dreams come true? Perhaps, but not without a gently spoon-fed twist in the tale. 

Taken on the terms on which Netflix is churning out these kinds of profitable films – Irish Wish hits all the marks and easy reward receptors and is as soothing and surprise-free as spuds and gravy. It’s the type of movie you could leave in the background while doing Sudoku and still not miss a beat in the plot. The character depiction is so dependable that the viewer doesn’t have to lift a finger. We know Maddie is an unlikely heroine because she wears glasses and trips over herself a lot. We understand her love obsession Paul is a bit of a cad because he’s as smooth as Guinness and comes from money. We suspect James is Maddie’s real love interest because of his hidden depth and irrational ability to push her buttons. 

If there was any doubt that we were inside an American rending of Ireland, the cap-wearing, jig-dancing village folk and sweeping local vistas reassure us throughout. To be fair, the film’s tweeness is more restrained and less eye-rolling than others we’ve seen before like Leap Year, in which a character unironically bleats, “Top o’ the morning!” and the widely panned and bafflingly talent-drenched Wild Mountain Thyme

The sweeping visuals of the film, which was shot mainly in Counties Wicklow and Mayo, capture the technicoloured vibrancy of Ireland’s “good side”. This postcard cinematography works hard to upstage Lohan’s sparkle and is the reason Americans are a little disappointed when they visit here. 

Perhaps the grand plan is to recreate Lohan as the poster girl of this twinkly fairy tale genre. After all, the festive romcom Falling for Christmas did kick-start her career after decades spent wandering child star wastelands and secured Netflix a tidy windfall. But if this isn’t on the cards, it’s now or never for Lohan to move away from this tidy template before her talent is doomed to the made-for-tv movie abyss. 

Irish Wish is available to stream on Netflix now. 

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