Navigating the intricacies of modern romance on the big screen is no easy feat. In an era when cell phones could easily solve misunderstandings, traditional obstacles to love seem outdated. Keeping a couple apart just long enough to fuel an intriguing plot is a challenge. "Love at First Sight" attempts to navigate this tightrope but fails to persuade the audience of the couple's suitability for each other.
Billed as a story of "fate and statistics," the film features a narrator (Jameela Jamil) who tries to steer us through a maze of numbers. The protagonists, Hadley and Oliver, meet at JFK Airport, providing the initial spark. But does a casual airport encounter translate into love? The script says yes, but it's far from convincing.
Hadley is rushing to board a plane to London from a chaotic JFK, notoriously busy on December 20th. She misses her flight and finds herself relegated to business class in the next available plane. Oliver, a Yale student specializing in statistics, crosses paths with her while she's seeking a charging station for her phone. Despite the flirtatious dialogue and shared airport snacks, their interactions lack depth.
It's a twist of fate that Oliver gets upgraded to business class next to Hadley due to a seatbelt malfunction. Yet, despite the shared screen time, he's not completely honest with her. Hadley’s phone loses his contact information, highlighting the couple’s inability to exchange even basic details like last names. The rest of the film is a quest to locate each other in London, a needle-in-a-haystack mission.
The narrator's intrusive role as the flight attendant and the guide for our lovebirds raises questions about the film's understanding of fate. Can fate be dictated or guided? The narrator seems to suggest that "fate can only be fate if we decide that we want it to be," a confusing statement that adds little clarity to the plot.
Extraneous elements like a "rewind" feature that offers another perspective and a clichéd makeover scene for Hadley further muddy the waters. The cast, featuring Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy, works with underdeveloped characters. Richardson is entangled in a subplot about her father's remarriage. Meanwhile, Hardy’s Oliver grapples with family issues, both of which seem like mere plot devices.
Oliver's academic focus on data and statistics fails to offer any poignant lesson or romantic insight. Both Hadley and Oliver remain unidimensional. Their parents, played by Sally Phillips and Tom Taylor, host a Shakespeare-themed costume party that feels disconnected from the main story, yet provides a visual treat thanks to designer Kirsty Halliday.
In conclusion, "Love at First Sight" fails to provide the compelling narrative glue needed to keep a modern audience invested in a love story. Instead of dissecting the intricacies of modern relationships, it skirts around the issues, leaving us with a half-baked romantic tale. For those looking for a captivating love story with relatable characters and a strong plot, the search continues.