‘Love & Gelato’ is a romantic comedy film directed by Brandon Camp, who also wrote the script. The film is the web adaptation of the 2016 namesake novel by American author Jenna Evans Welch, the first one in the ‘Love & Gelato’ series of books. The story follows Lina Emerson (Susanna Skaggs), an American young woman who travels to Italy because it was her recently-deceased mother’s “living wish.” ‘Love & Gelato’ finds its protagonist dealing with her grief and learning how to live after coming to Italy. If you are wondering what really happened to Lina’s mother, Hadley,’ we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
How Does Hadley Die?
The film begins with Hadley’s funeral. But it is soon revealed that she didn’t want it to be a somber affair. Hadley lived a life full of energy, laughter, and happiness. For her funeral, Hadley left behind certain rules. For instance, no one is allowed to wear black. Everything, from people’s attire to the coffin, is in the color of pumpkin spice, Hadley’s favorite color. Moreover, she insisted on the local musical talent Fleetwood Mac playing at the ceremony. But her biggest wish was to travel to Italy with Lina, but her illness made that impossible.
When Hadley was of Lina’s age, she visited Italy. She claimed that her time there changed her life. It is later revealed that she was speaking about Lina here. Quite early in the film, it is heavily implied that Hadley was diagnosed with cancer, though of what type was never mentioned. After Hadley’s funeral, Lina’s friend Addie laments Lina’s lack of social life, prompting the other young woman to ask whether she should have invited her dates to her mother’s chemotherapy sessions.
Although Hadley doesn’t appear even once in the film, she is an integral part of the narrative. She is the very reason why Lina is in Rome. In the course of the movie, Lina grows close to Howard (Owen McDonnell). It turns out that Howard and Hadley had genuine feelings for each other, but neither acted on them. Hadley wanted to make sure that her daughter would be alright in her absence. So, she reached out to the man who would be the perfect father figure for Lina.
Hadley knew that Lina’s biological father would be no help. Despite warnings from Howard, Lina seeks him out in Florence. His name is Matteo Fossi, and he used to be Hadley’s photography professor. Fossi refuses even to see her, prompting Lina to barge into his office and then leave with the portrait Fossi took of her mother. After losing her mother, Lina didn’t think she would end up finding a new family for herself, but that’s what happens to her in Italy.
Eventually, Lina chooses to extend her time in Italy so she can get to know Howard better. Toward the end of the film, it is revealed that Lina has become a photographer. Lina’s journey begins with incredible grief but concludes in this film just as she has found herself.