Love in the Maldives exports the Hallmark formula to a luxury getaway across the globe. The tropical romance stars Jocelyn Hudon (When Hope Calls) and Jake Manley (The Order), two up-and-coming Hallmark stars whose agents scored them a gig on-location at a gorgeous getaway in the Maldives. How these two got any work done while staying in paradise is a big enough mystery to warrant its own Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie. But will you love Love in the Maldives, or will this one leave you homesick for Main Street U.S.A.?
The Gist: Jocelyn Hudon plays Rae, a career-focused travel writer whose column Reservation for One chronicles her global adventures as a solo traveler. But with the magazine that publishes her column merging with a more glamorous, upscale publication, Rae is faced with a dilemma: instead of roughing it in the wilderness for a week and writing about how she was almost bitten by a lethal green mamba, her editor needs her to write a straightforward travel review about a luxurious, peaceful getaway in the Maldives.
Enter: Jared (Jake Manley), a peaceful zen bro who’s looking to get more exposure for his group mediation class. A mention in a column published by a major magazine sure would help get the word out — ! But Rae’s not exactly an easy sell when it comes to mindfulness courses. She’s way more interested in tracking down a mysterious, legendary shipwreck, one that’s turned into a bit of a tourist trap since it’s never actually been found.
But what if it turned out that Jared actually knew where that shipwreck was? And what if Rae actually stopped and caught her breath for, like, one second? Would these two Maldivian lovebirds find a song to sing together?
A movie’s location matters — or at least it should matter. All too often, though, the location in Hallmark movies feels like an afterthought despite hometowns and small towns being essential to pretty much every plot. But those towns are generally all exchangeable, all of them set in the same bustling little downtown located at the foot of the same mountain range, all seen from the same drone footage that starts 3/4 holiday Hallmark movies.
Love in the Maldives, though, is not set in just outside of Boulder/Denver in Somewhere, Colorado. It’s set in the Maldives — and it was actually filmed in the Maldives. Every scene is set against impossibly stunning horizons, or in that ridiculously fancy underwater resort. I’ve never seen a Hallmark movie look this expensive before, and that’s because they scored a very expensive location.
Thankfully they dropped a lot of money on the setting because the story leaves a bit to be desired. It really is by-the-numbers Hallmark, just set 9,000 miles to the east of Colorado. There are some glimmers of new ideas like Rae helping a widow she meets on the plane get used to traveling on her own. There’s also the sunken ship mystery, which I really wish the movie had leaned more into — but this isn’t a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie. I could have used a bit more from the actual movie itself, but I’m also not going to fault this cast and crew for being game for shooting literally anything — including the most hilariously awkward dance class I’ve seen on this network — just to get to the Maldives.
This location change had me wondering just how much attention we pay to the settings in these Hallmark movies. That’s definitely the case during the holiday season, when a lot of the merriment is conveyed via the twinkling lights, trimmed trees, and decked halls. The same, I realized, is true in Love in the Maldives. I really let a lot slide in this movie, especially as the pacing slowed down in the back half, just because I loved going on a resort vacation vicariously through Rae. When it comes to vibes, Love in the Maldives shows that Hallmark can deliver them cold and hot.