A young man and woman drive out at night to meet in a remote location. They've just matched on a dating app and both are nervous. After some perfunctory small talk, they get down to the business of hooking up.
But the encounter doesn't go as planned in a few different ways, including a phone call from the man's ex and the woman's nervousness. So they decide to get coffee -- and then embark on a new adventure entirely.
Written and directed by Laura O'Shea and Tony Doyle (who also star as the appealing pair at the center of the story), this short romance has a slice-of-life feel, with naturalistic light and camera. With no names, the main characters could easily be an everyman and everywoman. But the film's seemingly ordinary approach is far from boring or mundane. Instead, it foregrounds the everyday, resolutely human magic of finding someone special when you least expect it.
The writing and performances are the strong foundation of the film, and both have an eye and ear for relatability. Both the man and woman are matter-of-fact and down-to-earth, which brings subtle humor to their first encounter's awkwardness. They approach it like a job, even, and it's no surprise when it doesn't go as expected. For a brief moment, it encapsulates the limits of modern dating, with its emphasis on expediency and personality-as-marketing.
The date could be a disaster, but they decide to regroup by grabbing a coffee. They begin to get to know one another, and as the audience digs deeper with them, they reveal themselves to be quite likable and engaging, both on their own and together as a pair. As actors, both O'Shea and Doyle have a rapport and chemistry that feels both instantly comfortable and engaged, and they both are excellent at capturing their characters' seemingly fleeting feelings and thoughts. Watching them slowly earn each other's trust is a quietly delightful process.
They take the time to reveal deeper vulnerabilities and insecurities in a way that's real and endearing. And more importantly, they listen and take in each other's personal baggage with equanimity, acceptance and compassion. That opens up a space for fun, adventure, reflection -- and perhaps even something more than either was looking for.
Authentic, honest, funny and heartwarming, "Match" doesn't need the trappings of romantic atmosphere or a sense of the aspirational to charm its audience. Instead, the characters learn to keep it real with each other, a discovery relayed in a narrative that feels as truthful and genuine as its storyline and characters. In doing so, they may have found something magical with one another. Authenticity is the ultimate romance, as it turns out, which makes room for laughter, connection and that ineffable something we call spark.