Five Blind Dates, the Australian romantic comedy from Amazon MGM Studios, is the latest addition to the romcom genre. The film is directed by Shawn Seet and co-written by Shuang Hu and Nathan Ramos-Park. The cast is predominantly Asian-led, starring Shuang Hu as Lia, Yoson An as Richard, Ilias Swindells as Mason, Tzi Ma as Xian, and Renee Lim as Jing.
Lia owns a struggling tea shop and focuses more on her business than finding love. Suddenly, a fortune teller informs Lia that the success of her business and her love life are intertwined. She now must go on five blind dates set up by her family to find her true love to save her shop.
I expect a few cliches here and there with most romcoms and a predictable plot, but Five Blind Dates takes the cake. The premise of Five Blind Dates is a cute original story in theory. Still, it lacks originality due to entrenching itself in predictability and romcom cliches, some more outdated than others. One, in particular, is Mason, Lia’s gay best friend, and his gay friends giving Lia a dramatic wardrobe makeover montage. It is about time films retire this trope as it seeps in stereotypical cliches of gay men being treated as accessories to straight women.
Although most of Mason’s character is a mashup of cliches, he and Lia’s friendship does have some beautiful and authentic moments. Much of that is due to Swindle and Hu’s on-screen chemistry. They make you believe they could be best friends.
Most romantic comedies with more than one suitor usually have at least some suspense and excitement. Maybe an unexpected love triangle or the leading lady chooses to love herself over everything else. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen with Five Blind Dates. Before the movie is even halfway through, it is painfully apparent that she and her childhood friend Richard will end up together. This is not necessarily a problem because who doesn’t love the childhood friends-to-lovers trope, right?
The problem lies in the fact that there needed to be more romantic chemistry built up between Lia and Richard throughout the movie. They have moments where the audience gets bits and pieces of their dynamic and hints at attraction towards one another. There is even a brief explanation of why Lia and Richard fell out years ago. But that doesn’t do enough to build up the romance between these two childhood friends. I saw more chemistry and sparks between Lia and her other blind dates than between her and Richard.
The fact that Lia’s realization that Richard is “The One” has to come from getting information from her brother-in-law towards the tail-end of the movie felt forced. It would have been better if we could have seen some more moments of Lia and Richard interacting one-on-one to build up the suspense and tension between them.
While most of the movie feels as predictable as a Hallmark Christmas movie, Five Blind Dates does hold some interest. The film focuses on the nuances of family dynamics and the pressure Lia is under as the eldest daughter. For example, the scene where Lia tells her family off for criticizing her love life will hit a nerve for anyone who feels pressured to get married or blamed for still being single. These moments show how multidimensional Lia and her family can be instead of the two-dimensional caricatures they start as initially.
It is clear Lia and her family have some unresolved trauma they have to confront. A more effective execution of this aspect could have been touched on earlier in the film, allowing for more profound character development. During Lia and her mother’s fight, Lia’s frustrations stem from her parents’ separation and her mother’s overbearing nature. These have primarily affected Lia’s ability to navigate dating and relationships. Introducing this insight into Lia’s struggles with dating and vulnerability would have enriched her character so much more.
Regardless of the story’s issues with its execution, the performances are more than adequate and do well with comedic timing. Some of the most laughable moments came from Lia’s dates with the wealthy polyamorous Apollo (played by Desmond Chiam) and Erza (Jon Prasida). I also appreciated the film’s refreshing casting, as it centers on a predominantly Asian cast with some familiar faces and newcomers.
Five Blind Dates intertwines themes such as the significance of honoring traditions, preserving culture, and grappling with the expectations placed on the eldest daughter. These narrative elements resonate with authenticity, offering a refreshing perspective through Lia and her aspirations for her tea shop. The plot delves into Lia’s realization that tradition has its place but is not static and never changes, which parallels her personal growth and evolution.
Five Blind Dates leans too hard into romantic comedy cliches, so much so it drowns itself in it. But it is not all bad. While it struggles to create believable chemistry between the leading man and lady, the movie still has some funny moments. The film will stand out for its diverse cast, exploration of family dynamics, and the challenges of being single while trying to balance love and success.
Five Blind Dates is available to watch now on Prime Video.
Five Blind Dates
Five Blind Dates leans too hard into romantic comedy cliches, so much so it drowns itself in it. But it is not all bad.