Love Under the Olive Tree is a Hallmark Channel original movie about the olive oil business! The film is commendable for paying homage to olive oil, a food that we all love. The overarching message conveyed is a positive one: that producing good olive oil is difficult--indeed, an art requiring skill and knowledge.
The Cabellas and Brandinis have been competing in the olive oil business for decades. However, their grandchildren discover they may have more in common than they realized - and sparks begin to fly.
Love Under the Olive Tree is a made-for-tv rom-com that revolves around an annual olive oil competition in Sunset Valley, a fictional Northern California town.
It seems that every year, the competition boils down to two competitors: the Cabellas and the Brandinis. At the beginning of the film, the patriarch of the Cabella family business announces that his granddaughter Nicole will be taking the reins: "Olive oil is in her blood. Heck, it may be her blood." Meanwhile, young Jake Brandini, a partner-track corporate lawyer from San Francisco comes to Sunset Valley to visit his ailing grandfather and decides to stay to learn about the olive oil business. Turns out Jake is a quick learner, observing about olive oil on day-one: "Bitterness is a positive, who knew?"
As Nicole and Jake compete and (surprise!) fall in love, the viewer gets a lesson in olive oil production, albeit an over-simplified one. Jake's grandfather takes him on a tour of the Brandini mill. Pointing to a piece of equipment, and skipping a step in the process, he says, "This is the centrifuge that extracts the oil from the olives." The screenwriter also makes references to differences between traditional (Cabella) and modern (Brandini) olive oil operations, seeking perhaps to create some additional dramatic tension. But when Jake asks Nicole if he could join the Cabellas' traditional harvest to learn how it is done, they collect hand-picked olives in what look like cute little Easter baskets.
Jake and Nicole under the olive trees (or not).
Two other strikingly non-realistic elements in the film are worth mentioning. As both Nicole and Jake seek at the last minute to tweak the flavors of their contest entries, they taste the oil, not by sipping, but by dipping in popsicle sticks. (No surprise then when a taster at one points observes about an oil, "this one is woody.") And although the film is set in northern California, it was filmed in British Columbia. As a result, the producers also appear to take some poetic license with scenes that were shot in what were supposed to be olive groves.
The film won't likely be nominated for any awards. Nonetheless, and despite the technical inaccuracies, the film pays homage to olive oil. Most importantly, it clearly conveys the fact that producing good olive oil is difficult--indeed, an art requiring skill and knowledge. (In addition, it makes clear that olive oil is made from olives--which will be a shocker to many Americans according to recent NAOOA consumer research. )
Here's hoping that "Love Under the Olive Tree" will be the first of many screenplays, books, and plays that tap into the romance and culture of olive oil while simultaneously entertaining and educating consumers.