In Netflix’s new Spanish romantic comedy “Love at First Kiss,” which arrived on the streaming service early last month, young book publisher Javier (Álvaro Cervantes) struggles with having far too much foresight in all of his romantic relationships.
Javier suffers from a condition that allows him to see flashes of the future whenever he kisses a woman for the first time. These visions have allowed Javier to witness his high school girlfriend cheating on him, a casual hookup puking on him after leaving a bar and his best friend’s girlfriend being the love of his life.
As a result of his mysterious psychic powers, Javier faces countless romantic struggles: He ditches women any time his visions appear even slightly negative. But even when Javier’s vision for the future suggests a positive outcome for a relationship, his ability to predict the future leaves him bored and unsatisfied with most relationships.
It is not until Javier kisses his adventurous actress friend Ariana (Susana Abaitua) — and sees nothing about their future together — that he finally stops allowing his life to be dictated by his visions.
At first glance, this film seems to have all of the overused ingredients that make up a stereotypical but successful rom-com. The storyline is engaging: Javier realizes that his best friend’s girlfriend Lucía (Silvia Alonso) is his soulmate, resulting in a series of conflicts between Javier, Lucía and his best friend Roberto (Gorka Otxoa). The secondary characters are funny and sympathetic, with an especially hilarious performance by Pilar Castro, who plays Sonsoles Durán, one of the writers Javier works with. And the film features a love triangle with three very attractive leads, perhaps the facet that is most important to rom-coms.
As Javier’s romantic prospects become more unpredictable, so do the movie’s takeaways. A casual comedy soon calls into question the meaning of love and predetermination. Viewers grapple with either rooting for what Javier knows is going to be a successful relationship or his decision to take a risk on the unknown. It forces audiences to see romance as something people have control over instead of something that just happens.
Like many other Spanish comedies, “Love at First Kiss” is irreverent yet philosophical. Even while you’re laughing at Ariana’s quippy comebacks, the back of your mind spins with existential questions. It puts forth an ideal combination of the silly and the intellectual.
Ultimately, this movie presents the argument that what makes love a success is its inherent unpredictability. If we always know what is coming next, the only thing we can truly be sure of is that we will be forever unsatisfied — just like Javier was before meeting Ariana.