How does love happen? How do, say, two bookstore owners who hate each other (“You’ve Got Mail”) fall in love? How does a famous American actress fall for a non-famous British bookstore owner (“Notting Hill”) after a chance encounter?
In “Love at First Sight,” Cupid shoots two of his arrows in the middle of an airport. The love-struck man and woman start detecting that sweet pain immediately, and then realize that they’re beyond rescue later, at 1) the preemptive memorial of the man’s mom (who’s not dead yet), and 2) the woman’s dad’s second wedding. Got that?
“Love at First Sight” is a reminder that falling in love isn’t always supposed to make sense, can happen when you least expect it, in the midst of drama and sadness and in the craziest places. It explores the roles that fate and choice play in our lives, and how, to use the hoary cliché, whenever God closes a door, he opens a window.
StoryHadley (Haley Lu Richardson) flies to London to attend her dad’s (Rob Delaney) wedding. She’s still not over her parents’ divorce and resents him for bailing on her and her mom and starting a brand new life in another country.
Hadley has issues with being on time, and also flying in airplanes, and being therefore four minutes late for her flight—misses it. She manages to get a seat on the next one and, during the wait, meets a blond Brit named Oliver Jones (Ben Hardy).
He’s a good-looking math nerd (hence the running commentary about percentages and statistics from the narrator/fate/Greek chorus (Jameela Jamil), who pops up as different characters: a flight attendant, an immigration officer, a wedding guest, and so on. She makes it clear that love is just as much about choice as it is about fate.
Anyway, enter Cupid. Twang! Twang! The imminent lovebirds grab some food at the airport, and then, wouldn’t ya know—wind up seated next to each other on the flight.
Then, arriving in London, they promptly encounter a dead phone-battery situation wherein their exchanged info gets irrevocably lost. And so while Hadley’s at dad’s wedding, Oliver attends mom’s (Sally Phillips) living memorial.
Meanwhile, in the last book Hadley was gifted before her dad left—Charles Dickens’s “Our Mutual Friend”—she reads that well-known quote: “Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?” She overhears a wedding guest mention a memorial happening somewhere across town and impetuously bolts from the wedding.
OverallThe main problem with a film with this particular title is that the lovebirds must be twitterpated from the get-go, which can easily result in the whole thing hitting a ceiling early and having no place else to go. This story builds well.
We get a glimpse into their characters, and why they grew up with three specific fears. These fears (which include a shared loathing of mayonnaise) end up pushing them away from each other. What are the chances they will end up back together again?
Fate brought Hadley and Oliver together, but decisions count too, as does courage. When Hadley tells her dad, “It sounds insane, and it makes no sense,” his answer is, “It’s not supposed to.”
Particularly baffling to the logical Oliver is the fact that love isn’t logical. His mother’s memorial makes him realize that he has spent his entire life hiding behind numbers. Statistics are what kept him in control of his surroundings and prevented any surprises, stopping him from fully letting Hadley in.
It's because they are different and find themselves in different situations that one of them has the key to unlocking the solution—which the other one doesn't—and that they are able to connect and bring out something unique in each other. Hadley makes Oliver forget about the probability of falling in love at first sight, while he makes her realize that things can be good even if they don’t last.
“Love at First Sight” is a sweet little film, and due to the Christmas setting, a good watch for the holiday season. It’s one of the better romantic movies currently on Netflix.