‘Perfect Addiction’ was ‘perfectly addicting’

Wattpad shaping expectation, while setting a standard of storytelling. PHOTO CREDIT: Wattpad

One of the most foundational, defining facts about me is that I was obsessed with Wattpad, an online storytelling platform where anyone can publish their writing, when I was younger.

Did it severely, negatively impact the way I looked at love, intimacy and my expectations of men? Yes. Did I love every second of it? Yes.

One of the most memorable books from this time in my life is “Perfect Addiction” by Claudia Tan. 

The story follows Sienna Lane, a college student who works at her local gym as a trainer, which is where she meets her MMA fighter boyfriend, Jax. Things are going great for her— she loves her job, her sister, Beth, and her boyfriend, until she comes home from work early one day and finds her sister and boyfriend hooking up.

Sienna lived with Jax, so she’s now out of an apartment. She tells her friend, Brent, about the situation and Brent tells her to ask his half-brother, Kayden, for a place to . He’s not interested in a roommate and pushes Sienna away at first, but when she finds out that Kayden is also a boxer and just lost a fight against Jax, she tells him that she’ll train him in exchange for a room. He reluctantly agrees and we follow their love story from there. 

I’m obsessed with this movie. I think that this movie was made for me, and I say that because I don’t think many other people will like this movie. 

In fact, one Rotten Tomatoes reviewer, Casey Chong from Fiction Horizon, said, “Claudia Tan’s popular novel gets a glossy and superficial erotic teen-romance screen treatment.”

Although I think this review is too harsh, I do understand where it’s coming from. I think the adaptation from book to screen suffered from the overuse of narration. In the book, Tan was able to easily and smoothly write Sienna’s inner thoughts to make the audience feel close to her and more closely understand what she was feeling.

In the movie, Sienna narrated a lot of scenes, which is often a sign of bad screenwriting, and it especially suffered because she was telling the audience what was happening instead of showing it. I also think that the love story between Sienna and Kayden was a little rushed. There were a lot of time jumps so timeline-wise, the relationship made sense, but because there were a lot of montages throughout time, and the audience didn’t really get to see them grow to love each other as much as they did with the book.

Another thing that I always critique when consuming media that takes place during college is: how accurate is it to college life? Everyone’s college experience is different, so something that feels true to one person might feel completely different to another person. 

That being said, I don’t think this story needed to take place with Sienna in college. There were only two real scenes of her at school and the rest was focused on fighting or her relationships, which makes sense because that’s what the movie was about. I think the story would have felt more cohesive if all of the characters were older, maybe their late twenties, especially because of how far into their MMA careers the fighters were, despite still being teenagers. One of Sienna’s friends also got married in the movie, which again, seems like it would have made sense for a later period in their life, opposed to freshman year. I know no one wants to watch characters do homework, but it would have been nice for the writers to at least pretend that Sienna had educational responsibilities.

All that being said, I did adore this movie. I think it’s important to be able to be critical of the things you love, so while I recognize the faults within this movie, I also can’t help loving it.

I think Sienna, played by Kiana Madeira, and Kayden, played by Ross Butler, had great chemistry. Not only did I believe in their love story, but I was rooting for them to succeed. They made each other better people, Sienna helping Kayden open up and heal from his tortured past, and Kayden supporting Sienna and helping her realize that she can be a fighter too, not just a trainer.

I also really appreciated how the relationship with her sister was resolved. Instead of blaming the entire cheating situation on Beth, Sienna sympathized with her because she understood what it felt like to be in a brainwashing, toxic relationship with the very same man. 

My favorite lines in the entire movie happened when Beth finally realized how abusive Jax was and told Sienna that she left him. Beth said “Aren’t you gonna say I told you so?” and Sienna responded with “I’m so proud of you.”

It was very refreshing to see two women supporting each other instead of tearing each other down because of a man, and I’m so glad to finally see rom-coms today implementing these kinds of storylines.

The movie is also rated “R” for a very good reason. My 11-year-old brother is very into boxing and fighting, so I almost suggested watching this together before knowing the rating because I thought he could find enjoyment in the MMA part of this story. I’m so grateful that he said no because there are a lot of steamy scenes. 

I think a lot of the scenes in this particular movie were important because they showed the difference in Sienna’s relationships with Jax and Kayden. Although most people will probably get hung up on the explicit nature of the scenes, their purpose was to represent the two men. One with toxic patterns in the bedroom, such as taking joy in physically hurting his partner, and one who cared about his partner and valued female pleasure.

Jax loved Sienna because of what she did for him and Kayden loved Sienna because he felt connected to her mind, body and heart. Although a lot of the plot points were obvious and almost spelled out for the audience, I loved the underlying messages represented in the intimate scenes.

My middle school self fell in love with the plot, characters and writing and my soon-to-be college graduate self loves it just as much. This is the kind of story I dream of writing one day — I love strong female leads, I love angst-filled romance, I love seeing the obnoxious white male villain fail and I love all of the little moments between the characters that made me believe they were meant to be. This is also one of the very few romance movies I’ve seen with no white leads and it was great to see representation come so naturally in this movie.

Again, I don’t think the target audience for this movie is very big, but if you have low standards and love a cheesy, fanfiction-like rom-com, then I totally recommend giving this movie a chance.