A romantic comedy, by it’s very nature, needs to contain a relationship we can invest in. When adhering faithfully – and affectionately – to the more traditional aspects of the genre, at the very least there needs to be a romantic narrative the viewer can believe in and root for. However that’s exactly what is lacking, in Henk Prestorius’ latest endeavour, Leading Lady.

Though the distinct lack of chemistry is palpable, the leading pair – played by Katie McGrath and Bok van Blerk, are simply not in any way compatible. What does she see in him? First and foremost she’s a vegetarian, and he enjoys hunting animals. Or perhaps it’s because he doesn’t ever say anything or appear to have any ounce of personality. People love that.

McGrath is playing Jodi Rutherford, a sweet-natured, idealistic actress from England, who is determined to land the leading role in her partner – the esteemed filmmaker Daniel Taylor’s (Gil Bellows) forthcoming biopic of an Afrikaans war heroine. Determined to prove her worth and dissuade any claims of favouritism, she flies to South Africa, and heads to the farm belonging to van Blerk’s Kobus – in a bid to persuade the cynical farmer to prepare her for the role at hand. What she hadn’t foreseen, however, is just how inspiring and inviting life on the serene, idyllic landscape could be to her – which makes her question whether it’s even worth going back home at all.

Part of the issue within this saccharine, overtly vivacious picture, is the lack of conflict. Everybody seems so happy, and even when people go behind one another’s back and screw each other over, there’s a general, ‘ah well – let’s have a beer!’ approach. It feels almost like a children’s TV show in that regard, set in a idealistic universe where everything is pretty swell. The music further enhances this notion too, as it’s so contrived in how illustrative it is of the mood at hand, never dictating it, but playing up to it. If not a corny acoustic number to evoke the feeling of melancholy, then it’s the sort of stuff you hear when standing in queues at fairgrounds, which stay in your head, unwittingly, for days after.

The mediocre acting and lacklustre screenplay hardly help matters either, while Bellows fans be warned, the actor’s appearance within this title is more akin to that of a cameo than anything else. McGrath struggles to spearhead proceedings either, as while she’s undoubtedly empathetic and endearing, it’s not enough, where more depth and nuance is required. She’s spending the entire time yearning to be the leading part in an upcoming movie, while we’re still trying to figure out quite how she got this one.

While the romance in this picture is somewhat devoid, the comedy is not exactly prevalent either. Perhaps the humour doesn’t quite translate, as much of it derives from the stereotypical character creations, with both the English and Americans characters based on playful, deliberately overstated South African perceptions. But the film is at the mercy of it’s quite terrible opening act, as while it does get slightly better as we progress towards the finale, the irrevocable damage, unfortunately, had already been done.