Netflix spends a lot of money on prestigious Oscar bait, but its subscriber/viewership numbers probably owe as much to the light romances that the service spits out with regularity. Add “Love at First Sight” to that column, playing like a slightly darker fairy tale – rom without much com – about the odds against finding your soulmate, filtered through one of the young lovers’ preoccupation with math.
The meet-very-cute premise involves Hadley (Haley Lu Richardson, fresh off her stay at “The White Lotus”) missing her flight from New York to London, leaving her with some time to kill in the airport when she meets Oliver (Ben Hardy, whose credits include “Bohemian Rhapsody”), also bound for the UK.
While she’s heading not very enthusiastically to the wedding of her dad (Rob Delaney, in a role that ill fits him), he’s bound for a different kind of family gathering, the details of which he’s not eager to share.
The improbabilities that go into meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, and being in the right place at the right (or wrong) time, are largely left to a narrator played by Jameela Jamil, who cheerfully pops up throughout the movie in various roles (flight attendant, passerby, airport employee) to nudge along the relationship at key junctures. That includes a busted seatbelt that forces Oliver to move into the vacant higher-class seat next to Hadley, an act of customer service that, for regular airline patrons, brands this as sheer fantasy.
Ultimately, this sort of exercise (from the producers of the “To All the Boys” franchise and directed by Vanessa Caswill, from Katie Lovejoy’s adaptation of the novel “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight”) hinges on the chemistry between the leads. Using that measuring stick, Richardson and Hardy are properly vulnerable and likable, delivering the requisite sweet, stammering chemistry to sell the attraction.
Not that this movie – or many of those within this genre, despite their track record helping mint teen heartthrobs – are worthy of its title, which, it should be noted, is generally not an advisable way to find a match, whatever romance novels and reality TV shows might tell you.
Still, as first impressions go, “Love at First Sight” works nicely on the intended level for those sent in its “You might like” direction. For Netflix’s purposes, the odds are that adds up to all the love it needs.
“Love at First Sight” premieres September 15 on Netflix.