Belying its title, “Love & Savagery” is a mild romantic drama that’s set four decades ago and might easily have been made even earlier. Old-fashioned tale of a Newfoundlander falling for a forbidden Irish lass (she’s convent-bound) underplays its cliches to earnest, pleasant effect. It’s a safe fest crowdpleaser that’s probably too modest and plainly styled to gain much traction theatrically when it opens Oct. 9 in Canada, though TV sales should be decent.
In 1969, Canuck tourist Michael (Allan Hawco) is an amateur geologist and poet drawn to unique rock formations in West Ireland’s County Clare. Staying at the nearby hamlet’s pub/B&B, he’s likewise drawn to barmaid Kathleen (Sarah Greene), the proprietor’s niece. Sparks between them aren’t appreciated by locals, however, as she’s an orphan “promised” to God by her late mother’s wish. Smitten Michael’s refusal to back off earns him a couple beatdowns, and there’s a scandal when the hesitant lovebirds are stranded overnight on a nearby island. Leads are agreeable if lacking charisma, just as vet Canadian helmer John N. Smith’s presentation is solidly competent rather than inspired. Still, there’s enough charm and drama to hold attention.