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Entertainment Review: Love At First Sight

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“This isn’t a story about love. This is a story about fate. Or statistics. Really just depends on who you’re talking to,” explains the voiceover by Jameela Jamil, who turns up in Vanessa Caswill’s movie, Love At First Sight, in different roles to move things along, like a human deux ex machina, and also carries on a running commentary when the soundtrack takes a break.

Based on a book with the improbable title of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smiththe charm of the film lies in its simplicity. The two main leads who are meant to be together do not jump through any great dramatic hoops, and neither are they damaged like so many film characters these days tend to be.

However, their romance, beating all statistical odds — the male lead is a math nerd–starts at an airport on December 20, which is the busiest day of the year, because of the Christmas rush.  Hadley (Haley Lu Richardson) misses her flight to London by four minutes and is forced to buy a business class ticket on the next flight, if she has to make it to her father’s second wedding.

The battery of her phone dies, Oliver (Ben Hardy) also flying to London for an event offers her a charger– a very believable meet cute for these times– and they share a meal, chat in that easy way of strangers not trying to impress each other.

On the plane, Oliver’s seat belt malfunctions, so he is bumped up to business class, right next to Hadley.  Of course, they are made for each other!  Oliver enters his number on her phone, she drops it and loses it.  They have not asked for each other’s last names; in ordinary circumstances, that would be the end of the budding romance. But, if they gave up, there would be no film.

The attraction between Hadley and Oliver is not actually the best part of the film, that medal goes to the absolutely heart-warming ‘Living Memorial’ that his dying mother (Sally Phillips) organises for her friends and family, so they she can hear the eulogies and enjoy one last bash before she goes. It’s a joyous Shakespeare-themed party that is inevitably tinged with sadness as Oliver, his father (Dexter Fletcher) and goofy brother (Tom Taylor) struggle to cope with the imminent loss.

Hadley has been grumpy about her father (Rob Delaney) leaving the family to marry again, but when she sees how happy he is and how “unhatable” his new wife is, she softens.  What are the odds the she will overhear guests at the wedding talking of a memorial to which the son has flown in from America? She rushes to the venue to meet Oliver and does, though there’s some more waiting and racing through London’s pink-lit streets before the seal-with-kiss moment.

The two leads are pleasant, not annoyingly sexy, because this is a sweet, old-fashioned love story at a time when steamy romps are the norm.  And the soundtrack has old favourites like I Want To Dance With Somebody and Video Killed tha Radio Star.  The films not an unforgettable classic, but its worth 90 minutes.

Love At First Sight

Directed by Vanessa Caswill

Cast Hayley Lu Richardson, Ben Hardy, Jameela Jamil and others

On Netflix

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best-known entertainment journalists. A National Award-winning fim critic and author of several books on film and theatre. She tweets at @deepagahlot

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