Review by Tatiana Miranda
Many YA romance fans might already be familiar with the source of Netflix's latest rom-com, Love at First Sight. Based on the book The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, the film version sports a stacked cast including Ben Hardy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jameela Jamil, Sally Phillips, and Rob Delaney. Netflix previously adapted another one of Smith's books, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, which is another rom-com full of stars such as Jordan Fisher and Ayo Edebiri. Similarly to Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, Love at First Sight falls flat even considering the talent involved.
Love at First Sight centers around Hadley Sullivan, a disorganized girl living in New York who just narrowly misses her flight to London. While waiting for the next flight, she meets Oliver, who seems to be the complete opposite of her. Oliver is a British math student at Yale who refuses to leave things to chance, and is also heading to London. The two instantly connect as Hadley laments about her father's wedding that she is heading to. When they lose each other after the flight, it's up to chance to reconnect them.
There are elements about the film that work, or at least have the potential to do so. Namely is the plot, which features a chance encounter at an airport, which turns to romance as they spend the flight together. Similarly to the book, this section of the story is rushed through, and the only glimpse the audience gets into their connection is through cheesy one-liners. Yet, for two people who seemingly have trouble letting themselves fall in love, their relationship quickly turns from friendly to flirtatious via these cliché interactions. While both Richardson and Hardy portray their respective characters well, there is a disconnect when it comes to chemistry between the two.
Still, there are a few things that feel unique and well-developed throughout the 90-minute runtime. Although the movie is primarily focused on Hadley, Oliver is easily the more interesting character as he interacts with his family and parents' relationship. His storyline even features a Shakespeare-influenced memorial full of costumes and performances, which is one of the film's highlights. In comparison, Hadley is a more standard child of divorce with a strained relationship with her dad, which doesn't quite get the screen time it deserves.
One of the film's downfalls is that it tends to tell rather than show the character's emotions or how their perceptions of love affect their interactions. While most modern rom-coms don't pride themselves on their depth, this one attempts to give its characters more of a background that reflects their quirks. Unfortunately, it comes across as half-thought-out due to the inconsistency of their characteristics. Although Love at First Sight stays true to its source material, it is ultimately a run-of-the-mill YA rom-com to add to Netflix's library.
Love at First Sight premieres on Netflix on September 15.