There haven’t been many book adaptations that we have absolutely loved. Love At First Sight is the exception. It’s made us rethink our views. We expect the worst, because that’s what we usually get – an adaptation that isn’t worthy of the book that gave us everything. Yes, I said everything. Because that’s what books do – they give us heart, feelings and this feeling of being transported. They give us a sense of connection. They give us hope.
So when someone takes that book and translates it to the screen, we do know that things are going to change, but we also know that those changes are terrifying. They are the things that can make or break our love for the movie, because some adaptations take the heart of the book and destroy it.
While not all reviewers read the book before the movie, we do. We feel like it’s important to know what we’re walking into and just why or why not the movie is good. Yes, a movie should be able to stand on it’s own, but for us this movie has been a decade in the making.
The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight is the book that this adaptation is based off of and it’s the book that deserved a great adaptation.
Love At First Sight is a reminder that not all adaptations suck. It’s a reminder that the heart of a book can remain and what we can walk away with is the beauty of what we loved in the first place – the connection.
The greatness of Love At First Sight is based off of a few things – the writing, Jameela Jamil, and the magnetic leads – Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy. While some will tell you that this romantic comedy (and yes, there are some really funny parts in the middle of this movie) is hardly worth the praise that something like a Nora Ephron movie or a Reese Witherspoon movie, we would be the first to tell you that is comparing apples and oranges.
And if you don’t understand that, we can’t help.
What you have in this movie is a movie that is based off of a young adult book. It’s a movie about connection and giving of ones heart. It’s a movie that is about finding forgiveness and letting people in. It’s a movie about finding the good in what could be considered a bad situation.
On the surface, the premise is simple, “Hadley (Richardson) meets a cute British boy with an unforgettable accent, named Oliver (Hardy) on a flight from New York City to London. With some help from fate, over the course of the six hour flight, Hadley and Oliver fall in love.” Yet, underneath, the premise is more complex. It’s about trusting ones gut and finding the strength to follow the unknowns.
While we could examine the movie from a million different angles and tell you all of the things that it is about, we’ll leave your interpretation of what that is, up to you. What we don’t think that it’s exactly fair of us to dictate what you should or shouldn’t take away from something.
But we will tell you that Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy have such great chemistry that it jumps off the screen, grabs ahold of your heart and won’t let go. The two are the type of pairing the you hope to see – actors that know how to play off each other, that forget that it is work and are so convincing in their roles that it is as if you are watching people fall in love in real life.
Even as their relationship isn’t playing out, their individual stories are just as strong. Hadley is going to London for her fathers wedding and is having a hard time dealing with the fact that he’s moving on. She doesn’t know what to think of the woman that he is marrying and feels to a certain point as if she’s betraying her Mom. But what we get from this – Hadley’s life – is an extraordinary portrayal of the pain of love and loss. We get to see the realness of the dynamics of a father/daughter relationship and a child feeling left.
But perhaps the breakout star of this movie is Ben Hardy, and yes, we know he’s been around a bit, but for all intensive purposes, he’s new to us. Watching this movie – seeing the way that he brought Oliver to life with such strength, vulnerability, and such charm – makes you fall in love with him. Hell, even the teenagers in our lives were like thank you for introducing us to our new crush.
The chemistry of these two, mixed with the narration of Jameela Jamil, a secondary cast that shined bright, fantastic source material and a great script made this movie what it is – a reminder that YA adaptations can and should be great. We should not lose hope. Love At First Sight is the best adaptation since the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before franchise. No surprise that they are produced by the same person.
Lesson for all YA authors, if Matt Kaplan wants your book to adapt… let him do it.
Love At First Sight is streaming now on Netflix.