Charming, genuine and unexpected — “Love at First Sight” marks the Renaissance of the romantic comedy genre for a new generation.
Starring Haley Lu Richardson as Hadley Sullivan and Ben Hardy as Oliver Jones, the film follows two twenty-something college students who meet in the airport as they travel to London during winter break and fall in love during the flight. Unfortunately, they soon lose each other after exiting the plane, only to spend the rest of the movie finding their way back to each other. Through every moment of turmoil or conflict, both characters find a way to be endearing. Filled with perfectly balanced moments of grief and joy, “Love at First Sight” made me regain an appreciation for the classic fated chance storyline.
Oliver is a clean-freak statistics major at Yale who is obsessed with numbers and predictability — completely the opposite of Hadley, an undecided NYU student that could be described as the human equivalent of a tornado. However, the opposites attract trope is a classic for a reason, and the instant chemistry between the two is palpable upon their first meeting. What drew me in instantly about this film was Oliver’s character. For me, the male lead is what truly makes a good romantic comedy, and in this case that came in the form of the sweetest, most smiley love interest I have ever seen. His nerdy need to quantify even the smallest of details made for the perfectly quirky character to root for.
Hadley, on the other hand, was a mess. From always being late to never charging her phone, she is the epitome of a girl in her early twenties trying to figure her life out. I loved that she was inherently flawed in many ways, but ultimately had a good heart. No matter how many mistakes she made or how bad they were, she made up for it by holding herself accountable. Seeing her development from the beginning to the end of the movie as she learned to be loved by someone else as well as herself gave the movie its heart.
When Oliver and Hadley came together, it made for a romantic comedy unlike many I have seen in recent years. It felt like an intimate exploration of universally desired feelings, almost like a case study on love. When you watch a lot of romantic comedies like I do, many of them begin to blur together due to the similarities in terms of character types, plot lines and setting. However, “Love at First Sight” stood out because it found a way to take the typical structure of the genre and flip it on its head to give the audience a new experience. The fast pace at which the audience saw the characters was what made the film so engaging. The audience knows that the two characters are going to fall for each other, but they also know that they will lose each other when they step off the plane. This dichotomy builds to make for an interesting outside-looking-in perspective for the audience. By explaining the main conflict of the characters’ separation at the beginning of the film, the audience could focus on the emotions along the way.
Whether it be the nosy narrator, Jameela Jamil, or the funny little awkward moments, the film finds a way to balance its emotionally strenuous moments with a light-hearted overall tone. Although it definitely leans more into the romance of romantic comedy, the little quirks of the characters and formatting of the film appeal to those who like comedy.
By the end of the movie, I was begging Oliver and Hadley to reconnect and work things out, and when they did, I was desperately wishing I could experience it for the first time again. Undoubtedly, “Love at First Sight” has found itself a spot on my favorite romantic comedies list for life. If you too want to experience Oliver and Hadley’s love story, the film is available for streaming on Netflix.