Serendipity

SerendipitySynopsis: Destiny… With A Sense Of Humor.

Irresistible stars John Cusack (America’s Sweethearts, High Fidelity) and Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor, Brokedown Palace) are drawn together and take a chance on love in this critically acclaimed romantic comedy! In the course of one magical evening, Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meet unexpectedly… then part without expectation when she decides they must let fate determine if they are meant to be together. Years later, they are both engaged to others but cannot give up the dream that – despite time, distance and the obstacles that conspire to keep them apart – they will one day meet again! Also starring Jeremy Piven (The Family Man, Very Bad Things) and Molly Shannon (Superstar, Never Been Kissed) in a stellar supporting cast – you’re destined to agree with audiences everywhere who fell for the surprising charms of this delightful big-screen romance!

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Serendipity 8.0

eyelights: John Cusack. Jeremy Piven. Molly Shannon. the plot. the lovely scenery.
eyesores: Kate Beckinsale.

Jonathan: “Let’s go do something. “
Sara: “Alright, what d’ya wanna do? “
Jonathan: “I don’t care. “
Sara: “Alright, come on.”

I don’t actually remember why I originally picked up ‘Serendipity’.

Was it because of John Cusack, who was growing on me after watching a number of his better films, such as ‘Grosse Pointe Blank‘, ‘High Fidelity‘ and ‘Say Anything…‘? Well, it certainly wasn’t because of Kate Beckinsale, whom I didn’t know at the time and haven’t become enamoured with since.

And it’s certainly not because I have a penchant for romantic comedies. I don’t.

As far as I’m concerned, when they’re well-made, they’re terrific. But, as with many genres (comedy and horror in particular), most of the output is pretty weak. In the case of romantic comedies, it gets downright dismal. I think only horror films can possibly get worse.

…actually, perhaps that recent string of action films featuring WWE stars might also give romantic comedies a run for their money (not sure, as I won’t ever watch those!).

Anyway, I was totally impressed with ‘Serendipity’ when I first saw it. I thought that the whole cast was charming, the dialogue was amusing and well-written, and that the basic premise was fresh and genuinely entertaining. I was a fan, and have taken a few direct hits from derisive friends who couldn’t believe that I would dare defend this supposed lowly piece of cinematic drivel.

Frankly, while this time was my least enjoyable viewing thus far (Third? Fourth time?), I am still quite fond of it.

I think that, as far as romantic comedies go, this one is a winner. I still find its cast charming (although I find Kate Beckinsale two-dimensional and lacking in magnetism), the exchanges are pleasant (even if they are sometimes unnatural enough to be unconvincing and/or awkward), and the story remains infused with a certain magic, a unexpected hopefulness that makes one daydream.

Most of all, though, it isn’t too schmaltzy – and thank goodness for that.

Truth be told, while I’m far too sober and skeptical to believe in the whole “destiny” aspect of love, the romantic side of me likes to imagine that perhaps there is such a thing as fate, and that people can be destined to meet, to come together. So I was relieved that ‘Serendipity’ plays around with the concept a little bit, but does it in a relatively reasonable and sensible way.

For instance, each time that one of our couple-to-be (c’mon, was there any doubt?) tries to find the other, they always end up missing each other by mere seconds. From their perspective, it simply wasn’t meant to be. However, as observers, we are fully aware that it was just misfortune that came into play. In fact, these were all such close calls that we get the nagging suspicion that perhaps they were destined to be together after all – and eventually would.

I was tickled pink that neither ever knew what was supposed to be a sign and if they should be following these “signs”. To me, this clearly illustrated the problem with being superstitious: it is easy to assign meaning to almost anything. The problem is that we can’t ever know what destiny has in store for us – so it is equally easy to write any event off as circumstantial as it is to conjure up some sort of significance for it.

Jonathan: “You know, maybe you should give me your phone number. Just in case. “
Sara: “In case of what? “
Jonathan: “In case of life. I just had a really great time and for all we know I wouldn’t be able to find you again. “
Sara: “Well, if we’re meant to meet again, we’ll meet again. it’s just not the right time now. “
Jonathan: “Maybe we’re supposed to meet on British time and we’re five hours too early.”

I think that the movie highlighted this issue quite well right from the start: after their first encounter, Sara believes that they simply weren’t meant to be, moves on with her life and becomes more of a realist, giving little credence to these beliefs. Meanwhile, Jonathan started off being quite incredulous, but, later on, he starts to see signs everywhere.

Of course, in this case, ‘Serendipity’ suggests that these signs are real, that it’s not just an invention and that these characters just needed to have a little faith. Then it starts to have fun by leaving clues everywhere, both for the duo and for the audience to follow. By then, one is hooked and along for the ride: we know that not everything will work out, even if we know that the couple will likely be united by the end, so we want to see what will happen next.

To me, this is where ‘Serendipity’ succeeds best: it plays both sides of the equation quite well. Whether one believes in destiny or whether one believes that we choose/make our own fate, this romantic comedy manages to play the middle with a certain amount of flair.

Boasting a sincere performance by John Cusack, amusing supporting performances from of Jeremy Piven and Molly Shannon, and embellished with some rather beautiful big city scenery, it’s no mere happenstance that ‘Serendipity’ is likely to satisfy dreamers and realists alike.

Sara: “Um, (what’s your) favorite New York moment. “
Jonathan: “This one’s climbing the charts.”

Date of viewing: December 17, 2012

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