FINDING YOU is the quintessence of YA fiction brought to cinematic life. In it, our ordinary, yet winsome heroine, Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) is pursued by a famous movie star, is the only hope of settling a decades-long family feud, and puts all the snooty girls in her orbit in their respective places. All while being her own ordinary sweet and daring self. If it sounds formulaic, it is. The only surprise is just how good Reid is in preventing Finley from becoming a plaster saint.
Finley has come to Ireland on an exchange program in order to find the peace her brother did four years before on the same exchange. She needs some peace after muffing her violin audition to a prestigious music conservatory. On the trip over from New York, a flight attendant, with a twinkle in her eye, told her that there was an extra seat in first class. Much to Finley’s surprise and chagrin, the seat next to it is occupied by Beckett Rush (Jedidiah Goodacre), huddling in his hoodie in an attempt to avoid being recognized. Finley, being a sensible girl, is not impressed by Beckett’s fame nor by his swagger. He, of course, is charmed by that, and because it’s that kind of story, it turns out that he is not only staying in the same quaint Irish village as Finley, he’s also staying at the bed-and-breakfast run by Finley’s host family. In the YA universe, his preference for the real Ireland to 4-star hotels, means that underneath the fame and swagger there is a nice guy waiting for Finley to draw him out.
Beckett is there to film another installment of a wildly popular movie series featuring dragons and his pecs. Soon, he’s cajoled Finley into running lines with him, as in actually running lines because this is a YA story, and to let him show her the real Ireland, including the local pub where the resident fiddler (Patrick Bergin) shows Finley how to play her violin with heart instead of her fingers. Things progress in the time-honored tradition of Finley slowing warming up to Beckett, and Beckett revealing that what he really wants is a normal life.
There are, naturally, complications. Beckett’s manager-father (Tom Everett Scott) is more interested in his son as commodity than happy, well-adjusted twenty-something. The fabricated romance between Beckett and his vapid co-star (Katherine McNamara) forces Finley to stay on the down-low. Oh, and there is that college exchange program, and the Irish Studies class that forces Finley to somehow bond with Mrs. Sweeney (Vanessa Redgrave) the grumpiest old lady in the entire country. Further naturally, she’s misunderstood, and it’s up to Finley to make peace between her and her estranged sister, estranged because Mrs. Sweeney stole her fiancé all those years ago.
For comic relief, there is Finley’s host family. They have just opened their bed-and-breakfast, and fret about bad reviews and the father’s (Ciaran McMahon) penchant for kitchen disasters. Plus, daughter Emma (Saoirse-Monica Jackson) fairly explodes with delight about having a temporary sister, providing a sounding board for Finley, and the representation of just what effect Beckett has on girls. There is also Beckett’s director, whose impenetrable accent and effusive blather make for a pungent gloss on the movie biz.
All in all, FINDING YOU is a harmless bit of fluff, gooey as a marshmallow and just about as challenging. Still, it is graced with the sweet chemistry that, despite the material and an unfortunate coiffing choice for Goodacre, develops between him and Reid. There’s also that lovely Irish countryside, and some fine fiddling, too.