Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Love at First Kiss: Movie Review

A slow rom-com but not without some unique charms.
A Netflix Spanish rom-com starring Álvaro Cervantes, I immediately thought of Crazy About Her, but Love at First Kiss is not that. This is slower, light on the comedy, and attempting to be an introspective rom-com which gives it a different tone for the genre but does still hit most of the expected plot points. The basic premise features a man who can foresee the entirety of the relationship play out when they share their first kiss.   2023

Directed by: Alauda Ruiz de Azúa

Screenplay by: Cristóbal Garrido, Adolfo Valor

Starring: Álvaro Cervantes, Silvia Alonso

From a teenager kissing a girl for the first time at age 14 through to a perpetually single grown adult who constantly ends relationships before they get going to the utter confusion of a long string of ex-girlfriends, Javier (Álvaro Cervantes) has been labelled an asshole. Understandably, he doesn’t tell people about his unique gift since they wouldn’t believe him anyways, and he doesn’t want to continue in relationships when he can see the unhappy ending that’s coming. So he’s just going to be unhappy all the time until he finds the right one.

That moment comes when he’s unintentionally thrown into the arms of his best friend’s girlfriend during a night of drunken partying and he sees the future – years of bliss, a house, kids. She’s obviously the right one. Most viewers can guess what comes next, including the attempts to manufacture a break-up between best friend Roberto and Lucia. This act of the movie plays out with a lot less comedy than typically expected. Javier doesn’t want to be a guilty asshole, he just is.

The movie then goes for a different direction when it starts examining what is happiness. If what he thinks will make him happy, doesn’t actually make him happy, then where does he go from there? Has he been misinterpreting what his premonitions actually mean? While going for a more introspective rom-com, Love at First Kiss does become slightly less predictable (but only slightly), it also becomes slower with a distinct lack of comedy and romance. With a short run-time of only an hour and 36 minutes, it still somehow feels long.

The change in direction related to how Javier must reconsider how to respond to his first kiss abilities is appreciated. There’s a second girl with better chemistry, and you start to feel sorry for Javier given his inability to fully understand or appreciate how best to interpret his first kiss visions. Cervantes does excellent work with his puppy dog eyes. The filmmakers also did well shifting the power (ie confidence) balance between Javier and his eventual love interest and along with an original performative art piece in the middle that goes a long way to establishing the superior chemistry.

Love at First Kiss is unique enough to keep watching despite the limited comedy and pacing problems.

Available on Netflix (worldwide)

Something Similar But Different:

  Crazy About Her (2021) - A smart, funny and sensitively written rom-com about mental illness.