After missing her flight from New York to London, Hadley (Haley Lu Richardson) meets Oliver (Ben Hardy) in a chance encounter at the airport that sparks an instant connection. A long night on the plane together passes in the blink of an eye but upon landing at Heathrow, the pair are separated and finding each other in the chaos seems impossible. Will fate intervene to transform these seat mates into soul mates?
Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy in the latest Netflix romantic-comedy, Love at First Sight have a sideways screen chemistry. They’re likable but not lovable. They’re the kind of couple a viewer can put up with if there is a charming screenplay (by the perfectly named rom-com scribe, Katie Lovejoy and based on the popular YA novel The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith), passable and involved direction (Vanessa Caswill) and a dedicated supporting cast featuring British supporting veterans Katrina Nare, Tom Taylor, Dexter Fletcher and Sally Phillips.
Love at First Sight does the required winking at the Netflix algorithm for romance, as well as Easter Eggs to their other well known teen comedies. Lovejoy wrote the To All the Boys sequel and The Boys producing team also did Love at First Sight. The statistics British nerd lead, Oliver (Hardy) is straight out of Netflix casting, if he is not already the ChatGPT version of it- innocuously handsome and inanely talkative.
The plot is the late is fate chestnut. The American, Hadley (Richardson) is tardy four minutes for her international flight and meets the British, Oliver during the long layover for the next. Their separation and the attempt to reconnect is the rest of movie.
There is a slight twist to the tradition that comedies begin with a funeral and end with a wedding. Hadley is jetting to London for her dad’s (Rob Delaney) second wedding. The first wife, was her mom, so there is lingering resentment issues there. Oliver is coming back to England for the memorial service for his mum (Sally Phillips). She is dying of lung cancer that has returned after fourteen years and is refusing treatment. The memorial is a celebration of life that she can witness while still alive. This twist is so old that it’s now a Netflix tradition, part of the algorithm. Even the fact that both Oliver’s parents are part of a ragtag Shakespearean company is algorithmic. Love at First Sight is literally the Netflix algorithm falling in love with itself. Jameela Jamil even shows up in various guises functioning as the algorithm commenting on itself.
The only thing surprising- is that this kind of movie still works, even when it brings nothing new to the genre. It just needs young first time directing eyes to give it some zing.
Love at First Sight gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
- Michelle Harrison
- September 15, 2023