'Love Wedding Repeat' Director Dean Craig on Making the Netflix Rom-Com (and a Possible Sequel)

Courtesy of Riccardo Ghilardi/Netflix

Ahead of the film's release on Friday, Dean Craig speaks about the film's exhaustive editing process that went into the film's multiple endings.

Love Wedding Repeat, the latest Netflix romantic comedy, opens with a narrator offering"A wise person once said about life: We live in a universe ruled by chaos and chance, where all it takes is just one moment of ill fortune for all of our hopes and dreams to go right down the shitter."

The mission statement of writer-director Dean Craig's movie, out April 10, rings true in this particularly uncertain moment. Craig, whose other credits include Death at a Funeral, talked to THR from his home in Santa Monica, where he was trying to adjust to his new life amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"The hope is that the movie will be a bright spot in the midst of what's going on when it comes out," says the filmmaker of Love Wedding Repeat, which is based on the French film Plan de Table. It follows Jack (Sam Claflin) as he tries to ensure his sister's (Eleanor Tomlinson) Italian wedding goes smoothly, while coming to grips with seeing his lost love Dina (Olivia Munn) again. 

Craig talks about the film's exhaustive editing process, finding a narrator voice that was "very much like Judi Dench" and a writing a sequel, appropriately titled Love Honeymoon Repeat.

Love Wedding Repeat is all about sliding doors, missed chances and connections. Why did this theme of "grabbing chances when they come 'round" resonate so much with you?

I have always been interested in that just as an aspect of life. We live in this world where tiny things we do have a massive impact. Most people, when they talk about their partner or their best friend that they met or the job that they got, it's very often because of one little moment of chance that may so easily never have happened. I find it so interesting to think about if this one thing hadn't happened to me 20 years ago, I would be in a completely different place in my life and would know completely different people. And that's the same for all of us. 

Are the characters based on any wedding guests you've encountered in your own life or situations at a wedding you've been in? 

We've all been to events — even if it's not a wedding — where you get stuck talking to the person where you say, "Oh my god, I'm next to this person and I cannot get away." But when I meet those characters, I love it because I'm very interested to know where they are going to go with their conversations. I like different types of people and characters, maybe because I'm a writer.

The movie is certainly an ensemble piece, with all the actors in nearly every scene together.

Yeah, which is really nice. And I think it was nice for actors as well — to turn up on set knowing where they're going and knowing what they're wearing. They're wearing exactly the same thing every day and to be with the same group. I think it's kind of rare. Often, actors will go in, they're there for three days, they do their scenes and they leave. So this was a different kind of experience, where everyone got to hang out for the duration [of the shoot] pretty much. 

Did you envision the all-knowing narrator who talks about chance throughout the movie as someone in the actual story? 

That came out of later discussions actually with Netflix. And again the edit was so creative and I tend to be pretty open to people's suggestions, so I think Netflix had this great idea that maybe we should have someone introducing it with this sort of "oracle voice." I felt like that worked really well. Then we found this perfect voice, who sounds very much like Judi Dench. 

The narrator says that there are thousands of ways eight people at a table can be arranged. Did you know that exact number when making the movie?

(Laughs.) I do know it, and I did know it [when writing]. But then we started having some arguments about the actual true maths. I think we worked out that there were 10,000 different ways, which was quite mind-boggling. But then someone else said, "Oh, no, there are 40,000 different ways." So we got into the maths, and then we decided — let's just say it's "thousands" and then we'll be safe and we won't be held to account by any mathematician. Thousands is still quite amazing, isn't it? 

How did you come up with the format for the film, which shows the alternate versions for how an event can play out?

It was an unusual movie in that way, because as you say, we can go in so many different directions. My editor Christian Sandino-Taylor and I really did build the film in the edit to some extent. There are other versions of this film that would have completely different things happen in it, to a certain extent. It would be interesting one day to maybe even edit the alternative version of the film and see how different that would be. But this is the one we went with, and we're very happy with it.

Is the final version, the "get right" version, actually the way it is supposed to play out or is that left to interpretation? 

Yes. For me, that's the ending. The important thing is that Sam and Olivia, that Dina and Jack get together. That was always my endpoint. It has to be, doesn't it, for a romantic comedy.

It's Shakespearean to have everybody "end well," right?

Yeah, exactly. And it's funny, because we've got the tragic ending and we've got the romantic comedy ending. So, we get to do both. 

Where do you personally envision these characters are after the movie? 

Well, I am working on a sequel called Love Honeymoon Repeat. I may be able to answer those questions, but I may leave you to wait to see the answers.

Was that always the plan, to write a sequel?

Well, it's always been the plan with the producers, Piers Tempest and Guglielmo Marchetti. Ever since we were on set actually, they started talking about a sequel. So now I'm writing it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Love Wedding Repeat drops on Netflix on Friday, April 10.