Jenna Jones had it all: a fabulous career at a fashion magazine, power coupledom with a handsome man named Brian — their combined heat had even melted them into one headline-ready portmanteau entity, Brijenna.
Then Jenna lost both job and relationship in a spectacular public crash. We can only guess at what happened because her rise and fall are quickly summarized in a collage of headlines during the opening credits of the Netflix romantic comedy “The Perfect Find.”
What went down does not matter anyway: What does is that Jenna will get back up, and that Gabrielle Union endows her with the kind of casual charisma found only among elite members of the rom-com world. Good thing Union steers “The Perfect Find” with such sunny warmth and relatable poise, too, because the director, Numa Perrier, and screenwriter, Leigh Davenport (adapting Tia Williams’s 2016 novel of the same title), are not as assured.
After a year hiding out at her parents’ house, Jenna returns to New York to rebuild her life. Sucking up her pride, she asks her frenemy — the friend part is very, very small — Darcy (Gina Torres) if there might a job in her media empire.
Darcy ends up hiring Jenna as creative director, but not without casually mentioning that our heroine has just turned 45 (even if her skin probably glows even when she’s asleep).
Since good things come in pairs, Jenna almost immediately falls for courtly, passionate Eric (Keith Powers), a videographer who happens to be a new colleague, much younger, and Darcy’s son.
They embark on an affair that must be kept secret from their common boss, which should be easy since Darcy is barely around. Torres is tragically underused, as are Aisha Hinds and Alani “La La” Anthony as Jenna’s best friends.
On a professional level, Jenna and Eric cook up a new segment called “the perfect find” for Darzine, Darcy’s hilariously named, well, magazine, which allows them to explore their shared taste for the vintage and the retro-classy. The adorkable lovebirds are also both fans of old Hollywood movies, bonding over their admiration for the golden-age Black actress Nina Mae McKinney.
“The Perfect Find” is hampered by stilted dialogue and comedy that often falls flat, as well as a distinct lack of fizz for a film set in the fashion world. Fortunately, it is saved by two fleet-footed leads who have mastered the two steps forward, one step back dance at the heart of romantic comedy.
The Perfect Find
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. Watch on Netflix.