Does Love Beat the Odds?

Movies


Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Love at First Sight.


The Big Picture

  • Love at First Sight is a romantic production on Netflix that challenges the idea of destiny in relationships, showing that love is a choice that requires commitment and effort.
  • The film explores the importance of emotions and feelings in addition to statistics and probabilities, as Oliver learns to see his mother as more than just a number and reconnects with his own emotions.
  • Hadley’s journey involves forgiving her father and learning that love is a choice he had to make, ultimately inspiring her to invest in their relationship and prioritize family bonds.

From the very first scene, a throng of statistics and comments about fate jump off the screen in Netflix’s new romantic production, Love at First Sight. The title is actually a bit misleading, since it isn’t an inexplicable glance that draws the two protagonists together, but a series of fate-like coincidences from missing a flight to a misplaced backpack. Adapted from Jennifer Smith’s popular YA novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the enchanting story built upon a cheesy premise made its way onto Netflix screens to swoon audiences everywhere. Although it seems like the two are star-crossed lovers destined to be with each other, the relationship in the end emerges out of determination and work, making it that much more rewarding.

Hadley (Haley Lu Richardson) is a chronically late, mayonnaise-fearing and literature-loving daughter who embarks on a red-eye to London after missing her first flight to attend her father’s wedding. Fueling our airport fantasies, she meets the germophobic, statistically-oriented and British Oliver (Ben Hardy) who is also on the same red-eye to London for his (alive) mother’s memorial. After spending seven hours on the plane together, the two go their separate ways to their respective family events only to realize they have no way of contacting each other. Through mutual family friends, Hadley manages to find out Oliver’s location and abandons her father’s reception to reunite with Oliver. After another untimely separation, the two are left trying to resolve their familial bonds while destiny slowly nudges them together again. This is all tied together by the enigmatic and omniscient narrator, Jameela Jamil, who uses her enthralling charm to create a unique atmosphere and viewing experience.

RELATED: ‘One Piece’ and ‘Love at First Sight’ Lead Netflix’s Top 10 Charts


Oliver Learns That Feelings Are Just as Relevant as Statistics

Image via Netflix

Among the grand Shakespearean era decorations and the lavishly dressed up thespians, Oliver embodies the costume and discordance of Macbeth. He is unable to wrap his head around his mother’s decision to discontinue a treatment that could extend her life a little longer. His preoccupation with risk and reward is only based on probabilities and statistics but completely neglects emotions. Oliver’s mom Tessa Jones (Sally Philips) is truly one-of-a-kind, rebelling against tradition to host a theatrical memorial where her alive self is the star. Philips delivers such a memorable performance when she explains her reluctance to live out a couple of more years while being sick and instead opts for a grand exit celebrating her life and her present — it’s what she wants to be remembered for. And if that isn’t enough of an explanation for a living memorial, well “what’s the point of having all these people say really nice things about you if you’re not around to hear it?”

After speaking to his mother and with words of encouragement by Hadley, Oliver temporarily lets go of his numeric mindset and taps into his feelings, culminating into a teary and heartfelt phrase: “Tessa Jones is not a number… She’s my mum.” This breakthrough also allows him to be more receptive to his parents’ advice about relationships. Their enduring love for each other, despite the hardships, helps him realize that love is a choice you make. Destiny didn’t create their beautiful bond, it was the choice to commit every day and the effort they invested to support each other that allowed the wondrous and tragic Shakespearean love story to bloom. These revelations not only heal the rift between him and his family, but also help him overcome his fear of surprises and his need to rationalize life. It is also his family that encourages him to put in time and effort to pursue the romance that fate was nudging him towards and statistics was pulling him away from.

Hadley Reconnects With Her Father

Haley Lu Richardson as Hadley in Love at First Sight
Image via Netflix

Meanwhile, Hadley struggles with and resents the idea of her father (Rob Delaney) getting remarried. The thought of her father saying the same vows he once promised her mother to another woman caused Hadley to believe the love he had for her family was false. But as she sees the sincerity of her father’s new love and the likability of his new wife (Katrina Nare), she is begrudgingly happy for him. Hadley’s father also dissipates her fears in a poignant scene where he explains that both he and her mother weren’t prepared for the amount of effort required to keep the marriage and love alive. As such, this crucial lesson was the only way he could move on to his next marriage and new life, but that didn’t diminish the value of love he had for Hadley. The authenticity and intensity of his admission moves Hadley to forgive her father and inspires her to invest in their relationship by planning holiday visits and rekindling their mutual love for books. Like Oliver, Hadley learns that love is a choice a person had to make.

‘Love At First Sight’ Is About Choice, Not Destiny

love-at-first-sight-ben-hardy-hayley-lu-richardson
Image via Netflix

Despite the fate-like coincidences littered around their narrative, ultimately, it was Hadley and Oliver’s choices that reunited them in the end of Love at First Sight. With Jamil embodying the mechanics of fate and her physically manifesting herself to interfere in their story, it does seem like destiny has a heavy hand in their relationship, particularly because it helps them overcome the immense odds stacked against them. There are always going to be external factors like fate and statistics that push and pull a relationship. But as Oliver soon comes to realize, the statistical probability of love at first sight loses out to choice and the effort to act on the choice. Although, this wholesome romance film is constructed upon an extremely cheesy concept — destined love at first sight all because of a missed flight — the commentary entrenched in the ending gives the film a more mature and fresh feel.

The film actually takes a step further from the novel, adding in a heartwarming narration by Jamil that simultaneously grounds the story and ends it with a whimsical flair. In an interview with The Wrap, director Vanessa Caswill recalls “talking to the DOP and saying, ‘maybe we should put the end on the end of the film’ And he said, ‘Well, it’s not really the end, though. It’s the beginning.'” As hopeful and fate-like the concluding narration seems, there’s a notion of knowing that it was only successful because of the deep commitment and hard work each partner invested into the relationship.



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