Describing a streaming original as a product tailored to an algorithm’s preferences may seem like a cliché, but “Love at First Sight,” now available on Netflix, takes this concept to a whole new level. This movie not only comes across as unapologetically formulaic but also builds its entire narrative around the cold calculations of data, thus exploring the intriguing intersection of romance and statistics.
Much like “500 Days of Summer,” the film that serves as the foundation for this latest creation, “Love at First Sight” introduces us to a narrator who becomes obsessed with numerical details. A notable example of this fixation occurs at the outset when the movie introduces its two central characters, Hadley (played by Haley Lu Richardson) and Oliver (portrayed by Ben Hardy). Instead of delving into their personalities or quirks, the film overwhelms us with a pedantic voice-over detailing their heights, ages, and even the average charge remaining on their cellphones.
Based on the young adult novel “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight,” the film unfolds over a span of 24 hours, chronicling the journey of these two students as they travel to London for important family events. The fateful meeting of Hadley and Oliver occurs in a classic “meet cute” moment at Kennedy International Airport, followed by a shared nap in adjoining business-class seats and an almost-kiss moment in the lavatory queue. Jameela Jamil, who perhaps embodies the pair’s cosmic stroke of luck, serves as the narrator, periodically appearing in various background roles throughout the story.
Director Vanessa Caswill truly hits her stride once the lovebirds touch down in London. Here, the obsession with statistics takes a back seat, allowing the cast, especially Haley Lu Richardson and Sally Phillips (who plays Oliver’s ailing mother), to shine with genuine emotion. The transformation is remarkable—how could a premise as uninspired as this one manage to evolve into a robust romantic drama? Jameela Jamil’s character might just have the answer, given her unique connection to the story’s unfolding events.