‘Irish Wish’ Review: Lindsay Lohan Rom-Com Is a Sweet Comfort Watch

Ed Speleers and Lindsay Lohan in Irish Wish. Netflix

Although Irish Wish is a fantasy about a fictional writer, its director Janeen Damian is making real-life wishes come true. Damian helmed 2022’s Falling for Christmas, a delightfully silly holiday romantic comedy that brought Lindsay Lohan back into the spotlight, representing her first major film role in a decade after her career was unceremoniously derailed. That film, although sentimental, reminded audiences just why we like Lohan so much: she’s fun, she’s game for onscreen antics, her hair is enviable in a way that can’t be completely explained. And now thanks to Damian, we get a second round of Lohan in Irish Wish, a whimsical rom-com that pays homage to beloved films like Lohan’s own Freaky Friday and Just My Luck, and everyone’s favorite Ireland-set rom-com, Leap Year

IRISH WISH ★★★ (3/4 stars)
Directed by: Janeen Damian
Written by: Kirsten Hansen
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Ed Speleers, Alexander Vlahos, Ayesha Curry, Jane Seymour, Elizabeth Tan
Running time: 93 mins.

Lohan plays Maddie, a nice girl who has trouble speaking up for herself. She’s a former freelance writer (it didn’t pay enough, eh-hem) so she’s taken a gig as a book editor for a big-time New York publisher that’s home to author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos). Paul is a dreamboat, but he’s also kind of a dickhead and he’s taken all the credit for his latest bestseller despite the fact that Maddie basically wrote it. On the night of his big book launch Maddie tries to work up the nerve to admit she has feelings for him, but Paul falls for her friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan) instead. She soon finds herself on her way to Ireland for their wedding at Paul’s family estate, an aspirational manor played by the real-life Killruddery House. If only Maddie had spoken up and now it’s too late—or is it?

Lindsay Lohan in Irish Wish. Patrick Redmond / Netflix

A few days before the wedding, Maddie makes a wish in a mystical wishing chair, requesting to marry Paul instead of Emma. Thanks to a mischievous Irish saint, Maddie gets her wish, although it doesn’t pan out exactly as she’d imagined. She finds herself attracted to photographer James Thomas (Ed Speleers), whose interests and dreams seem more aligned with Maddie’s own. The pair get caught away from the estate while visiting Cliffs of Moher (this movie is fittingly an ad for travel to Ireland and you would not be wrong if you succumbed) and sparks fly. Paul, meanwhile, is still kind of a dickhead and his interest in Emma is undiminished by the fact that he’s about to marry Maddie. What if what Maddie thought she wanted isn’t what she wants at all? 

Irish Wish, which also stars Jane Seymour as Maddie’s mom and Ayesha Curry as her fellow bridesmaid Heather, isn’t trying to reinvent the rom-com game. Screenwriter Kirsten Hansen clearly knows and loves the genre, and her narrative beats play into its cliches in a nostalgic, charming way. We know where the story is going and we want it to go there. Speleers, best known for You and Downton Abbey, is an extremely likable romantic lead and he has moderately good chemistry with Lohan, whose hair is doing some of its best work here. Lohan is a believable nice girl learning to find her voice and it’s hard not to root for her. The movie is hopeful and sweet, even when it veers into the ridiculous, and it’s a diverting comfort watch during a different time in the world. 

No one is expecting Irish Wish to be an Oscar winner, but it’s successful as what it is. I would watch 50 more rom-coms starring Lohan set around the world, and so would all of her fans. Sometimes you just want something uplifting, easygoing and surface-level, which this is (despite Maddie proclaiming James Joyce to be her favorite author). And just because a movie isn’t crafted with the skill level of Oppenheimer doesn’t make it not worthwhile. We need silly rom-coms to get through the long, hard days of reality just like Ireland needs tourism dollars after the pandemic, so why not celebrate Irish Wish for the joyous entertainment that it is. And Lohan, if you’re reading this, can you please send me the name of your hairdresser?

Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.

‘Irish Wish’ Review: Lindsay Lohan Rom-Com Is a Sweet Comfort Watch

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