(director/writer:Brian Baugh; screenwriter: based on the novel by Jenny B. Jones “There You’ll Find Me”; cinematographer: Michael Lavell; editor: Chris Witt; music: Kieran Kiely, Tim Williams; cast: Katherine McNamara (Taylor Risdale), Jedidiah Goodacre (Beckett Rush), Vanessa Redgrave (Cathleen Sweeney), Rose Reid (Finley Sinclair), Tom Everett Scott (Montgomery Rush), Patrick Bergin (Seamus), Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Emma Callaghan), Judith Hoag (Jennifer Sinclair), Fiona Bell (Nora Callaghan), Ciaran McMahon (Sean Callaghan); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Ken Carpenter, Julie Ryan, Stephen Preston, Brian Baugh; A Roadside Attractions; 2021)

“I found it clunky, contrived and filled with absurd tropes.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brian Baugh (“The World We Make”/”I’m Not Ashamed”) is the writer-director of this inspirational romantic YA drama that’s not a bit inspirational. It might reach its YA target audience (though I doubt it), but I found it clunky, contrived and filled with absurd tropes. It’s based on Jenny B. Jones’ popular YA novel “There You’ll Find Me.”

Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) is a privileged attractive teen from NYC who plays the violin, but because she still mourns the loss of her brother who recently passed away, she plays without heart and fails her audition test to get into a prestigious Manhattan conservatory. So she follows the path of her older brother and opts for one semester to go to college in Ireland as an exchange student, hoping a change of scenery will benefit her mental health.

On her flight abroad, she unknowingly, while in first class, is seated next to “bad boy” movie star Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre). He pays attention to her, and a possible romance is hinted at because he’s impressed she doesn’t recognize him. Furthermore, the host family, the Callaghans (Fiona Bell & Ciaran McMahon), who she is boarding with, are the sames hosts as her brother’s, in the small coastal town of Carlingford. They operate a bed and breakfast where Beckett is also staying while shooting a a sequence for his fantasy movie series.

Later in the film we will learn Finley’s brother was a saint, who gave his life saving refugees in the Middle East. The spoiled Beckett doesn’t get the meaning of that kind of humanity, which makes it hard for Finley to love him. Beckett’s controlling father (Tom Everett Scott) is his manager and feeds the press false rumors about his son’s romantic life, like him seeing his co-star Taylor Risdale (McNamara), hoping this will aid his legend as a teen idol. But it instead prevents the real Beckett from showing us who he really is and what his real life passion is for.

The two Americans use the backdrop of Ireland to deal with their problems of privilege and just growing up, as the plot tritely turns into ‘a will-they-won’t-they’ romance in this uninteresting rom/com, a film whose bland leads are dullards and sexless– characters I do not connect with.

The best actress in the film, the great Vanessa Redgrave, is reduced to playing a frumpy senior citizen in a nursing home who is around to give the Yanks lesson on Irish culture and tell us she just wants to be alone (a sentiment Garbo could approve of). Patrick Bergin is the local pub drunk fiddler, who gives the film its only breath of fresh air.

Finding You