When I saw the trailer for A Perfect Pairing I raised my fists in triumph and shouted, “What do we want? Mediocrity! Where do we want it? Streamed immediately into our eyeballs!” To be fair, mediocrity sounds too negative. What I really meant was a middle-of-the-road comfort-watch rom-com with a breathtaking background location and a Genetically Blessed Face (which is nowhere near as snappy a sounding chant), and this movie provides exactly that. 

Lola Alvarez (Victoria Justice) is a very successful wine rep for Mythos Wine in Los Angeles. In fact, she’s probably single-handedly saving the company with her wine smarts, her business acumen, and her interpersonal skills. We meet her when she’s bringing some Very Important Chef back on board by explaining to him that a particular wine is a “passport to a travel experience.” Uh, not to be all picky about semantics, but isn’t that the whole point of passports? Anyway, the point is that Lola is really good at her job and she never stops go, go, going, which I realize is a whole new type of character for this kind of movie, so don’t let it throw you too much.

Lola talking on her phone as she pulls a suitcase behind her. In front of her is a glass door etched with the word MYTHOS WINES
Nothing says career woman like a pencil skirt AND walking while talking on a cell phone and pulling a rolling suitcase. This woman a vim and vigor and is GOING PLACES!!

Lola is all into importing wine from this female wine collective from Uruguay, but the chef really wants her to get him access to Hazel Vaughn’s “Vaughn Family Wines” out of Australia. (As an aside, Lola continually talks about Uruguayan wine like NO ONE has ever heard of it before, which confuses the hell out of me because Uruguayan wine is already a thing?) Lola is at first deeply skeptical because Hazel Vaughn is some big business magnate or whatever and Lola is a Serious Wine Person who doesn’t do vanity labels, but she’s eventually convinced. The hitch is that Hazel Vaughn is away on her sheep farm for a month, so she’ll have to wait to pitch until after that. Lola mistakenly shares this insider information with her less successful but striving co-worker Audra (Lucy Durack, who is grossly wasted in this movie), who then, in order to save her ass from possibly getting canned by their absolutely horrendous boss Calder (Craig Horner), steals her pitch. Gasp! Lola very publicly quits her job (people in the meeting react so little that I’m pretty sure they’re all robots), decides to start her own business, mocks up a logo, finds Hazel Vaughn’s sheep farm, learns there’s also an Airbnb cottage on the farm, books a ticket to Australia, and takes off to convince the woman to sign with her not yet existent wine distribution company before her former employer can get to her. What a perfectly plausible plan!

Calder in a suit and tie leaning over the shoulder of an employee to tell her to get rid of her many helium balloons.
Calder is the only thing close to a villain that this movie has. You may recognize him from THIS LITTLE LOVE OF MINE.
Audra pitching Vaughn family wines.
The audacity…of wasting an actress as funny as Lucy Durack in a role as unfunny as this one!
Lola realizing that her ideas has been stolen. Her mouth is agape.
Domo arigato Mr. Roboto. The background actors look a little like they’re playing mean high school kids…who are also robots.

Thanks to Lola’s father’s (Antonio Alvarez) nosy book group and some handy expositional writing, we also know that Lola went through a nasty break up with her ex-husband and hasn’t yet taken the big leap back into dating. And isn’t it so timely that just before she leaves her father says, “Your heart got broken, you pressed pause on your love life. It’s time to press play. You’ve got to learn to trust again.” Could this be foreshadowing? Mostly it’s so we know that in addition to being very Career Oriented, Lola is also somewhat Emotionally Unavailable ™ due to past heartbreak and (most importantly) she has big Trust Issues ™ .  Please also note that Lola is Latina, but, like, generic Latina. She names her wine company Salud, her father’s name is Carlos, her last name is Alvarez, and her father has some colorful plates. Beyond that, it’s all pretty amorphous. 

Carlos and his bookclub friends at the table with Lola.
¡Tan quirky!
Lola's logo for her new company which shows red wine sloshing in a glass with the word salud imports above.
Lola and Carlos standing in his kitchen with a large pot of drip coffee on the island along with plants.
Please pay attention to the big-ass pot of drip coffee because it’s going to be important (to me) in just a minute.

Off Lola goes to the sheep farm where she accidentally walks into Hazel Vaughn’s actual house where she’s found by the Genetically Blessed Max (Adam Demos) who tells her that “charm doesn’t work” on him. (Want to make a bet on that, buster?)

  • Open stairs with Max's boots and the bottom of his jeans visible.
  • Max in a button down shirt and his hat in his hand.
  • Max laughing at something.

After a chance run-in with Hazel (Samantha Cain) where Lola unsuccessfully tries to pitch her not yet existent business, Lola does manage to finagle herself a job as a farmhand because they’re desperate and that is definitely how the world works, please do not question it or the entire plot will crumble before your very eyes. And you’re never ever going to guess who, out of all the people working on the farm, is assigned to do some one-on-one training with her? Ha! No, I’m kidding. You will absolutely guess that it’s Max, his rugged face, and his well-toned upper body!! Hallelujah! Max is dedicated to his work, the land, the simple life, button down shirts with the sleeves rolled up to show his forearms, jeans that sit well on his hips, his stoic expression, being absolutely set in his ways, harboring a Life Altering Secret, and giving Lola some pretty good longing looks.

Lola is very, very good at a lot of things, but she is just a mess when it comes to farm work. Of course she has the wrong shoes, though they are not as bad as women’s shoes often are in rom-coms. Is that progress or just current fashions? (She claims it’s because she was only going to be there for a couple of days, which I think, it’s fair that she didn’t bring proper clothes for mending fences and mucking out stalls, but who the hell flies all the way to Australia for two days? Couldn’t that kind of jet lag literally kill you? As long as she’s there shouldn’t she try to visit some other vineyards at least? But I’m getting off track.) She also does things like use all the hot water and overload the circuit breaker, which does nothing to ingratiate her with her more seasoned bunkmates, and they make bets on how long she’ll last. But what is Lola? Determined! Plucky! Resourceful! Always in a full face of makeup! This sheep farm is going to be under her spell in no time flat, plus it turns out she knows how to fix a hot water heater. She is so unbelievably capable that it’s a real humdinger of mystery why she’s so incapable when it comes to the very specific tasks of farm work! Could it be because it’s so dang charming? Oops. Mystery solved. 

Max and Hazel, who is dressed in light tan riding pants and a white vest over a white button down shirt with black riding boots, walking on the lanai while Lola stands behind them and waits.
Of course, no one talks about Hazel’s wealthy woman clothing, which is also not particularly suited to mucking out stalls, but I guess that’s because she’s probably not doing much actual farm work.

Will Lola obnoxiously ask for a latte the first morning at the farm when it’s obvious there’s only going to be coffee? Of course! Will she later “educate” people about coffee like Australia doesn’t have amazing coffee shops and like she and her dad weren’t drinking coffee from some basic drip coffee maker? I’ll let you guess!

Lola with a knowing expression, demonstrating how to make a pourover coffee.
Uh, friend, we just watched you drink regular old drip-style coffee from a giant pot, so please do not get all high and mighty while educating this man who seems to produce a lot of fine looking food from a tiny kitchen every day. Also, my understanding is that Australia has some damn good coffee shops, so he’s probably just placating you. Also, imagine if this man had to stand there and make multiple cups of pour over coffee for everyone working on the farm? He probably has other things to do, Lola.

Will the truck that she and Max use to do chores on the farm break down a lot causing them to walk great distances through gorgeous landscapes while talking about their lives? Absolutely! Will Max save her from a deadly snake by scooping her up in his arms only for their eyes to connect in a meaningful way? Oh, you betcha! Will I snort, but also be somewhat beguiled? That’s why I watch! Will there be a scene where Max is shirtless and Lola peers at him and makes audible sounds of appreciation in case we don’t get the message that he’s Very Attractive? Indeed! Will she also constantly comment on the beauty of the landscape (not a euphemism)? She will! I don’t know why there’s a fear of people enjoying things silently in movies like these. We’re not all suddenly going to lose interest and run away. There’s a middle ground between some art-house movie where no one speaks for 85 of the 90-minutes and this where no one ever stops speaking.

  • Aerial view of the barn, which says Waratah and pens holding many sheep
  • Pickup truck going across a low bridge with many rocks in the stream.
  • Max leaning against the front bar of the pick up truck while Lola stands next to him.
  • Lola and Max walking back across the same low bridge that the truck was going across.
  • Lola sleeping with arms akimbo in a twin sized bed on the farm.
  • Lola looking at a scrub brush that is covered with green goo.
  • Lola, wearing pink gloves, scrubbing a toilet covered in green scum.
  • A pick up truck driving along a body of water in which a large rock scape is reflected.
  • Max and Lola and the dog walking away from the pickup truck.
  • Through Eucalyptus leaves we see Max, Lola and the dog walking in the distance.
  • Max holding Lola in his arms and looking down into her face intently.
  • Max turning to look at someone as he works on an engine. He is wearing a dark blue button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows.
  • Max looking at Lola while she talks as they are walking.
  • Max looking into the distance while he walks next to Lola.
  • Max, shirtless, moving haybales.
  • Same as previous, but you can see more of his torso.
  • Same as previous.
  • Lola peaking out from around a door with her jaw slack as she watches Max move hay bales.
  • Max sitting shirtless on the edge of a pool at night.
  • Same shot as before, but Max has one eyebrow raised and has his left hand resting on his right arm.

Anyway, my point is that everything you think is going to happen in this movie is going to happen. In fact, you can probably gauge it down to the minute, which is absolutely the charm of this kind of movie. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I would like to register my displeasure with the fact that there was not a single unexpected drenching rainstorm in which the leads got caught. I don’t particularly care whether or not drenching rainstorms are part of the climate in Australia at this time of year. It’s not like anyone is striving for verisimilitude! Also, please note that this is a super duper incredibly chaste movie. There’s a whole part where Lola and Max go camping together and just before they go to sleep Max does a bed check and finds a snake in Lola’s sleeping bag and this movie is so chaste that I’m not even sure if it was meant as euphemism for Max’s snake maybe getting into her sleeping bag later that night. 

Max and Lola in a cabin standing over their bed rolls. Max is holding a green snake in his hands at waist level that has its head outstretched toward Lola.
“Don’t worry, Lola, this large, taut snake that was hiding in your bedroll and I am now holding at pelvis level while it points directly at you is perfectly harmless.
Max in his sleeping bag, pulling Lola, in her sleeping bag, closer to him. They are lit by soft lantern and firelight.
He’s going to protect her from any other snakes sneaking into her bedroll. Wink. Wink.

All joking aside, though, Lola is shown as an independent, capable, tenacious person who learns and grows from her experience on the sheep farm, but it’s not solely from her interactions with Max. She has actual conversations with other characters who teach her about the importance of a work-life balance. In fact, if anything she’s the one who influences the greater change in him than the other way around. It’s a big shift from the rom-coms that are predominantly written by men. Lola even makes a group of female friends on the farm with whom she has a supportive relationship. Though there is still the sticky subject of how much of her appeal is based on the tried and true formula of klutzy charm mixed with talents considered stereotypically male and a childlike giddiness around things like animals. It still fits squarely within the usual male fantasy framework of a woman who is strong, but still just soft enough to need a man. I’m not because of that saying we need to chuck out all characters like Lola per se, but we certainly need to be aware of what ideals they’re feeding into while we watch them. 

Lola spilling a bag of grain as she takes it off the back of a flatbed truck.
Aw, shucks! Isn’t it just so cute how she can’t get the hang of farm work. Seriously, though, what are these bags? They’re like loosely tied muffin tin liners doubling as grain bags. Is someone intentionally setting her up for failure? You can’t haul 50 lbs of grain around in a burlap muffin liner.
A sheep to whom Lola becomes very attached standing in her pen.
Look, I have no issue with the whole idea of Lola coming to terms with where her meat comes from, but that’s not what this is about. The whole thing is Lola having big doe eyes and soft feminine side about the sheep she named Baaaabra Streisand and Max putting on the stoic, masculine act of this just being the way things are on a farm and how people eat. And, ugh, maybe let’s just leave the sheep out of all that stereotyping?

This movie is not perfect—though it is a good upgrade from Adam Demos’s previous foray into Netflix rom-com-dom, Falling Inn Lovebut when you’re looking for something that will comfort your eyes with verdant landscapes, some stunning sunsets, and an impressive expanse of masculine musculature, while soothing your brain with a storyline that hews to the rom-com canon, well, you might say this could be a Perfect P— No? Too much? Fair enough.

Overall Rating on the Chronically Streaming Pain Scale:

1-Comfortable: Maybe there are some annoying twinges here and there, but overall the good outweighs the bad.

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