Friday, May 26, 2006

Movie Review: Serendipity

U.S. Release Date: 10/5/01
Running Time: 1:31
Rated: PG-13 (Profanity, sexual situations)
Cast: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, Eugene Levy, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan

Director: Peter Chelsom
Producers: Peter Abrams, Robert L. Levy, Simon Fields
Screenplay: Marc Klein
Music: Alan Silvestri
Studio: Miramax Films

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“Fate sends us little signs, and it’s how we read the signs that determines whether we are happy or not.”

Serendipity: a word that can be defined as, “good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries,” or as the film’s fine female lead calls them, “fortunate accidents.” Serendipity, the film version of this noun, is a delightful romantic-comedy that dually possesses a well-written script and enchants the hopeless romantic in us all. With its two charismatic leads and its charming, dreamy, and surprisingly hysterical fluff, Serendipity is a rom-com for the ages. Yet, with all of its spontaneous energy, it doesn’t quite measure up to the stature of When Harry Met Sally and its prime inspiration and synonym, Happenstance.

After stumbling upon one another while Christmas shopping for black cashmere gloves at Bloomingdale’s, Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) exchange interested glances and words. Both have a significant other, yet both are still longing for love and a soul mate. They share a drink, a skate in Rockefeller Center, and an incredible night together that is then left to chance.

A few years later, Jon is set to marry Haley (Bridget Moynahan), while Sara has accepted an engagement from Lars (John Corbett), an eccentric musician. Jon’s friend Dean (Jeremy Piven) and Sara’s friend Eve (Molly Shannon) attempt to convince Jon and Sara respectively that maybe – just maybe – once in a lifetime can happen twice.

Hats off to the casting crew for selecting Kate Beckinsale; she is an absolute pleasure to watch. Her charming smile, breathy exhales, and vivacious accent make her irresistible on-screen and the sweetest brunette to grace the big screen since Audrey Tautou in Amelie. Likewise, John Cusack plays the role of Jon with unexpected appeal. Much like Billy Crystal’s surprisingly effective turn in When Harry Met Sally, Cusack is able to convince the thirsty-for-romance audience that he can indeed play the part of a white knight.

In addition to its stellar leads, Serendipity packs a comedic punch that induces several quality belly laughs. The run-in with Eugene Levy, the fitting analogy to The Godfather Part II, and the inclusion of kid dressed in Satan garb all provide for entertaining comic releases in-between the sugary bits. Yet, with its euphoric climax – swirling snowflakes, superlative soundtrack, and all – Serendipity never falls short of possessing a tender heart specifically designed to unite its two star-crossed lovers. The film is flattering, delicate, and – for one who indulges in the romantic formula – it’s simpatico. (*** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006