Hold onto your hats, we’re headed down under with Netflix’s latest rom-com release A Perfect Pairing.
Wine sales executive Lola Alvarez winds up working at an Australian sheep farm in order to win over a major new client but winds up stirring the passions of a rugged and mysterious local, Max, too.
Yes, it has everything you want for in an escapist rom-com: a dreamy, almost seemingly unreal job (day drinking! for work!), a beautiful landscape (with some deadly snakes), and some seriously good eye-candy: Victoria Justice (Victorious, Fun Sized) as Lola and Sex/Life star Adam Demos as Max.
The movie wastes no time in establishing its genre-given tropes, and establishes Lola as an Instagram-worthy ‘girl boss’ who still has some struggles of her own to deal with (divorce, of course).
Though not the most groundbreaking of movies (and, who says it needs to be after all?), A Perfect Pairing manages to avoid some problematic tropes that still litter even the best rom-coms.
There is one explicitly queer character who is a totally normal person without heaps of trauma nor a tragic subplot (what a concept!) and no ‘funny, chubby friend’ to serve as the comedic punching bag.
We’ve seen many fish-out-of-water rom-coms before. Unlikely people in unlikely places having to adapt and overcome challenges, falling in love along the way. What makes A Perfect Pairing feel slightly fresher than most is the sheer energy of its lead.
Justice bounds through each scene in a way that could feel forced but her earnestness in delivering even the cheesiest of lines instead brings you into her world and buy her as a real, if slightly over-the-top, person. She might be exhausting to be friends with – and you’d surely grow bored of her Instragrammy one-liners (which, yes, include the phrase girl-boss) – but you can’t deny she’d never let you slow down.
This unbounded energy balances Max’s rough reticence well, and A Perfect Pairing also eschews the expected antagonism between the two. Instead of Max dismissing, degrading and rolling his eyes, he is patiently quiet and mostly helpful, if sometimes a bit sarcastic.
Of course, there’s always a catch in these kinds of films – and with these kinds of men – though A Perfect Pairing plays up the inevitable reveal to be far more dramatic than it is. (We won’t spoil it for you, but safe to say it’s an easily forgivable transgression, particularly in the capitalistic hell hole we call modern society).
All rom-coms like this require a hefty suspension of disbelief – you have to imagine a world in which a woman can blag her way into the biggest career get of her life, in which labour laws and visa requirements don’t exist, in which dreams really do come true.
A Perfect Pairing at least feels rooted in some kind of recognisable reality; Lola isn’t a famous novelist who buys a castle in Scotland, or a baker who coincidentally looks identical to a princess.
What the movie does best is not put too much emotional strain on its thin script. It doesn’t deal with the big issues that other films try to tackle and fail. You might find yourself thinking ‘that’s dumb’ or ‘that’s impossible’ but in the end, A Perfect Pairing knows exactly what it is – cheesy, escapist fantasy that moves at a clip – and on those counts, it delivers.