Love at First Sight | Third Space
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Love at First Sight

Could this Netflix film give us hope for this genre?
Mon 18 Sep 2023

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⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5)

Statistically based on all of the romantic films of the past decade, director Vanessa Caswell and novelist Jennifer E. Smith have done something mathematically unprecedented. This combination of artists has produced a beautiful generational romance without spoiling it by over-sexualising the film. Rarely do I front-end a review, but this had to be one of the most beautiful romances in years that gives hope to this genre.

Smith’s 2011 novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, sets the scene for this unlikely relationship between Hadley Sullivan (Haley Lu Richardson) and Oliver Jones (Ben Hardy). The pair meet at an airport while travelling to London from New York to attend different family events. The serendipitous nature of their encounter gives them eight hours to learn about one another and to establish a connection until they are separated upon arrival in England. As each goes through their personal experiences in the English capital, both cannot forget the other and must put together the clues that could draw them back together. Yet, is this relationship genuinely love, and could their spark on the plane be merely chance? The stats seem to work against this relationship, but they may be able to defy the odds.

Modern cinema has been hamstrung by all that has occurred over the years in society that has made romance anything but romantic. On one side of the cinematic landscape, audiences are offered the sanitised side of relational bonds that fail to have any proper chemistry between two people. Yet, on the flip side of this category of films is the narrative that insists that true love involves bedding the other person as the definition of these signs of the heart. Both ends of this amorous scale are less than satisfying and fail to define the dramatic romance, and that sweet spot in the middle is rarely found. When you see this rare gem, it needs to be embraced, celebrated and nurtured like any good relationship. Love at First Sight is one of those unexpected joys that brings together all of the necessary components that can even win over the greatest skeptic.

Vanessa Caswill has taken Jennifer E. Smith’s story and shown how love cannot be left to mere statistics or a formula to be convincing. First, the lead actors need to have an undeniable chemistry. Richardson and Hardy have the spark to make this not only believable, but they will make the viewer hold on until the end, hoping they come together. The second part of this equation includes the dramatic tension and twists that will keep the pair from one another. Smith’s clever mix of familial pressures make this emotionally satisfying and adds to the overall experience. These elements must cut the fine edge of probability while drawing the audience in as we learn about who these two people are in life. Then many of the best include a third party who connects every aspect of this romance to ensure the two meet once again. A Good Place's Jameela Jamil’s narrator delivers this aspect convincingly without distracting from the central story.

Over the years, Netflix has produced romances that have run from one end of the narrative to the other extreme. This aspect has yet to make them a reliable source for consistency. Still, every once in a while, they deliver a winner. Love at First Sight was a charming tale of happenstance and unrelenting passion that will defy the odds and may make audiences believe that romance is not dead.

Reel Dialogue: Romance by the numbers?

Oliver Jones is a mathematician and statistician who gives a speech during the film that begins to define someone he loves by merely sharing a series of numbers. Still, he proves that statistics fail to describe a person or a relationship. The affairs of the heart cannot be boiled down to an equation, despite what the dating sites hope to show you. Not that these services can’t help in the process of finding someone to love, but they cannot force the chemistry between a man and a woman to work. These emotional, physical, and spiritual links can only be explained when two people discover the one they are meant to love.

Few people would think God could play a role in this aspect of life. Yet, His plan for these connections goes back to the beginning of time. Romantic love was not only God’s idea, but it was meant as his gift to humanity. He saw that people should not be alone and designed men and women to have an intimate and exclusive bond involving life's physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects.

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” - Matthew 19: 4-6

If you would like to discuss romance and God. Reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat about this and more.

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