*(CNN) — “The Perfect Find” starring Gabrielle Union falls well short of perfection, but it’s the kind of low-key romance that often finds an appreciative audience on Netflix. Union plays the newly single woman who falls for a much younger man, in a movie that emphasizes chemistry over eroticism, landing somewhere between a Hallmark movie and a Harlequin romance.
Union’s Jenna has just split from her longtime boyfriend (DB Woodside, briefly), very publicly losing her job in the process. Anxious about her career, she goes hat in hand to a former friend/rival, Darcy (Gina Torres), who after some hazing hires Jenna to join her vaguely defined fashion enterprise, which mostly seems like an excuse for everyone to wear fabulous outfits.
Jenna goes to a party and instantly clicks with Eric (Keith Powers), a recent film-school grad who, as luck would have it, also happens to be Darcy’s son. Their flirty banter and magnetic pull toward each other are handled deftly by director Numa Perrier, adapted by writer Leigh Davenport from the Tia Williams novel.
The sex mostly occurs off-screen, letting the audience bask in its aftermath and the natural, improvised-feeling exchanges as Jenna and Eric get to know each other. That works better than the various sitcom-esque impediments thrown at the relationship, starting with the issue of not letting Eric’s mom find out what’s happening.
The older woman/younger man dynamic is certainly a well-worn concept, with “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” – a familiar antecedent for this sort of exercise – bearing down on its 25th anniversary (where did the time go?), and “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” (granted, more of a June-September romance) representing a more recent, steamier variant.
Still, despite a few amusing lines – like an exasperated Jenna huffing, “Ten years ago you had a lab partner, and a locker” – the age difference winds up being an almost secondary factor to the workplace concerns, especially because Union hardly looks like she’s robbing the cradle.
The best elements actually have relatively little to do with the central plot, as the movie makes particularly good use of older songs, like “Chain of Fools” and “You Got It All,” to breezily advance the story and capitalize on the central duo’s shared love of old movies – a shorthand means of showing they’re meant for each other, the years be damned.
The Netflix model hinges on catering to different audiences, with an abundance of romances aimed at the teen/young-adult crowd, and more mature alternatives, like the series “Sex/Life,” as those viewers advance along the demographic food chain.
“The Perfect Find” fits squarely within that strategy, finding the ideal home for a movie best summed up as being perfectly adequate for the task at hand.
“The Perfect Find” is now streaming on Netflix.
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