Love at First Sight is the latest addition to Netflix’s extensive library of casual rom-com films, which are not necessarily very moving but are mostly made with the purpose of lighthearted entertainment. Adapted from Jennifer Smith’s novel, the Netflix film is about two young individuals, Hadley and Oliver, who make acquaintances out of sheer luck aboard a flight from New York to London and then eventually lose each other after landing. Although the plot is majorly predictable, the characters in Love at First Sight are fun to watch, and especially Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy’s convincing performances make the film a decent work.
Plot Summary: What is the Film About?
Love at First Sight begins on December 20th, at an extremely busy JFK International Airport in New York, when people from all over the country and parts of the world travel through the airport before the holiday season. In this setting, a young woman rushes through the crowds, clearly late for her flight, and her endeavors are of no use. Hadley Sullivan, the protagonist of this tale, reaches the airport late and misses her flight. As she inquires at the counter about the earliest next flight to London, it is revealed that Hadley is a student at NYU who is flying to the UK to attend her father’s marriage ceremony. The woman luckily gets a seat on the very next flight around an hour and a half later and buys the ticket.
With a habit of repeatedly getting late for things and also running out of charge on her phone, Hadley goes over to the charging station, where she meets a charming young man, Oliver Jones. A student of statistics at Yale, Oliver is mostly obsessed with statistical chances and mathematical figures, but he is also very helpful and sweet to our protagonist. Incidentally, Oliver is also about to take the same flight to London as Hadley, as he is heading home from the US, and so the two decide to have a meal together before their boarding. They gradually get to know each other better, and along with an almost immediate spark between them, there also seems to be a strange bit of luck that they share.
Despite Hadley’s seat being in business class and Oliver’s in economy, the two get to sit together in business class when Oliver’s safety belt turns out to be broken, and so he is moved up to the only other empty seat. Up in the air, the two individuals learn more about each other, and there is clearly a feeling of romance growing between them. After a moment of holding hands, the pair are about to share a kiss as well, but are stopped short, and they do not make any mention of it anymore.
The next morning, when the flight lands at Heathrow, Hadley and Oliver get off together and intend to keep in touch, but are separated by different lines because of their different nationalities. Oliver types in his number on Hadley’s phone, but because the device is running out of charge again, the two budding lovers are separated from each other.
How does Hadley’s relationship with her father improve?
Along with the main plot of romance between the two characters aboard the flight, Love at First Sight also deals with their individual lives to some extent. While these parts are not exactly necessary for a mostly generic love story to play out, they do add some depth to the characters and their motivations. From a young age, Hadley had been most scared of mayonnaise, enclosed spaces, and visits to the dentist. However, in her recent past, something else had trumped every other fear of hers—her parents’ divorce. Originally settled in their native United States, Hadley’s family drifted apart when her father, Andrew, got a new job at Oxford to teach poetry. The young daughter was very excited at first, as she had always wanted to pursue higher education abroad; however, her dreams were instantly crushed upon learning that it was only Andrew who would be going.
Unlike many other instances of kids in a loveless marriage, Hadley did not have much idea that her parents had gradually drifted apart from each other over the years. She did not realize that Andrew’s taking the job at Oxford, initially for just one semester, was essentially a way for him to move his life away from his wife. At the end of this semester, Andrew and his wife ended their marriage, and her parents’ divorce shocked Hadley very much. As a teenager or young adult, the protagonist did not express much of this shock, but it had always lived on inside her. Within some time, when Andrew fell in love with another woman in England, Charlotte, and decided to marry her, he wanted his daughter to be a part of it. Although initially it does seem like this invitation from Andrew is a mere formality, it gradually becomes clear that the man genuinely still loved his daughter and wanted acceptance from her.
Despite being very close to her father ever since childhood, the proximity and love between Hadley and Andrew gradually faded as they moved away from each other. Over time, awkwardness and unsaid grievances had also made their way into the bond, and Hadley was, in fact, skeptical about going to London for the wedding. Like us, she too felt at the beginning that this was just an invitation out of formality by her father, but it is gradually that the woman realizes more about her father and the divorce. Andrew admits that he and Hadley’s mother had stopped loving each other for quite some time, making their marriage just an empty shell. Since their daughter was also grown up and independent by that time, the two had decided to get divorced to let each other live happier lives.
When Andrew asks Hadley for a dance at his wedding reception, or when the man instantly drops everything in his schedule to find and pick up Hadley when she gets lost, the daughter realizes how much she still means to her father. Hadley had admittedly wanted to believe that her stepmother, Charlotte, would be evil or conniving, just like in fictional tales, but she rather liked her from their very first meeting. Through her father’s brief explanation of his decision to get divorced, the protagonist also understands the complexities of love and relationships. While many children suffer from the fact that their loveless parents do not get divorced and instead just stick on to a failing and ugly obligation, Hadley could not expect that her parents would fall apart. In the end, though, when Hadley dances with Andrew at the reception party, her participation is genuine, and the relationship with her father has truly healed. The woman then also decides to stay back for a few more days and spend Christmas with her father.
Why had Oliver come to London?
Back at JFK airport and over the long flight, Oliver had never really spoken about why exactly he was returning home to London. When Hadley saw a suit with him and assumed that he was also attending a wedding, the man changed the topic. As Love at First Sight also presents a sequence of what happened with Oliver after he exited the airport, we get to know about the real reason for his visit. He belonged to a family that loved sticking together and entertaining each other with Shakespearean literature, and the parents, Val and Tessa, had prepared one such spectacle for Oliver and his younger brother Luther during their childhood. Amidst this performance, Tessa got seriously sick, leading to her getting diagnosed with cancer and making Oliver permanently hate surprises. Although Tessa had recovered and had been well for the last many years, the cancer had returned, and this time, it was fatal.
Oliver, who had been living in the US for his studies, wanted his mother to go for treatment once again, as his ever-trusted statistics showed that the woman would surely survive some more months or even a couple years by being treated. However, Tessa was not of the same belief since she had accepted that her death was inevitable, and so she did not want to go through the pains of chemotherapy again. Instead, the woman wanted to have a memorial with her dear friends and relatives so that she could enjoy a day with them before her eventual passing. This had caused some differences between Oliver and her mother, but he had mostly kept this bottled up in him and only expressed it on the day of the memorial.
The resolution to Oliver’s personal struggle comes in a less complicated manner than Hadley’s, perhaps because, in the case of the man, the only solution is for him to accept fate. Spending hours with his family helps him realize that everyone has their own way of thinking and that by wanting to hold on to his mother for a few more months, he would selfishly make her go through more physical pain. Therefore, by the end of the memorial, Oliver seems fine with his mother’s decision, and his attention shifts to the other problem—his newfound love, Hadley. Tessa, Val, and Luther had also met Hadley by now since she had visited the memorial, and they encouraged the man to go meet her at the marriage reception. Finally, the entire Jones family drives Oliver to the reception hall, and their once strong bond is once again brought back in the process.
Do Hadley and Oliver reunite in the end?
After leaving Heathrow Airport, the romantic connection between Hadley and Oliver stayed strong, as both gradually realized that they had fallen in love. While Oliver had been waiting for the woman, his brother Luther had come to receive him and had caused some commotion at the place. The police did not let the brothers hang at the airport any longer, and so Oliver had to leave only minutes before Hadley arrived.
At her father’s marriage ceremony, Hadley heard one of the guests talk about a memorial service that he had to attend, and the description of the family fitted exactly with that of Oliver. Realizing that this might be the only slim chance to see the man again, Hadley ventured out into the streets of London by herself to find the place. She did find the memorial service, got acquainted with the Jones family, and then met with Oliver as well. As she admits, Hadley’s intention was to help Oliver at the time, for he was clearly in some grief and pain. However, out of this very grief and the resulting frustration, Oliver ends up hurting Hadley.
The two separated once more, this time by their own choice, but as fate would have it, the woman left her backpack at the place. Love at First Sight also employs a woman credited as the narrator, who also keeps physically appearing in the film over and over again. But the woman does not appear in only one form, for she is first a flight attendant, then a customs officer, then a bus driver, and even a random person on the streets of London. It is clear that this woman is a sort of cupid-like figure who is omnipresent and is always in the process of making the two come together and fall in love. It is she who moves Oliver to the seat beside Hadley on the flight, and then she guides Hadley towards the memorial service, where the latter is to meet him. Also, acting like a literal narrator of a love story who keeps conjuring ways for the lovers to meet, this mysterious woman keeps bringing the two together.
However, during Love at First Sight‘s ending, it is Oliver who makes the decision to apologize to Hadley and reunite with her. The magical narrator is thus no longer required. As the two meet, they share their first kiss, and this marks the beginning of a loving relationship between Hadley and Oliver. As the narrator takes over in the end, it is revealed that the pair will spend the rest of their lives together, in a beautiful marriage lasting 58 years. With the guarantee of the two lovers always staying together till the end, the film leaves behind a sweet but unrealistic hope for love at first sight.