Fate and Kate
Review by Ross Anthony

Here's a cute note: Speaking with the manager of the Monrovia Krikorian Theatre, I stated, "Unfortunately, while attending several other screenings, I let 'Serendipity' slip by." He replied, "That'll happen if you close your eyes just for a second." His clever quip struck me, no doubt more profoundly than he had intended. For that reason, and because its spirit parallels the film's, I thought I'd share his remark with you.

"Serendipity" starts schmaltzy, but even worse, cliché. Cusack and Beckinsale, seem to search, desperately rummaging, for that magical dialogue-dependent chemistry found in other great love story movies. They almost find it, but interestingly enough, that doesn't matter much. "Serendipity" isn't about the lines these two good-looking people share together - it's what they share apart.

Their initial spontaneous meeting in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film soon gives way to seven years of separation and unrelated fiancées. Both involved in other relationships in other parts of the world, fate keeps reminding them of each other until they can no longer ignore the memories. Though fate's serendipitous playing in the introductory setting seeps like a bottle and a half of maple syrup into a perfectly good short stack of pancakes, later more sparing usage makes for a better flavor to the picture as a whole. You'll wince once or twice (especially at the "star constellation" sequences - uck), however, still other destiny games will send you resonating. And one or two good strikes to the heart helps forgive a lot of spilt Mrs. Buttersworth's.

Many films start out with a bang only to fizzle. "Serendipity" starts with a fizzle, pops and sputters into a controlled flame, then even flashes into a few fireworks (emotionally speaking) before the end. Very nice performances ... especially by Jeremy Piven as Cusack's loyal best bud.

So what do I grade a film that begins as a "B-" then builds consistently to an "A-"? Well, "B+" would have been my "final answer;" however, appropriately instilled with a sense of serendipity, I'll let the last woman to leave the showing tip my grade with her enthusiastic reaction to the film. So if you don't like "Serendipity" blame it on Dana.

Btw, as theater's go, The Krikorian (Monrovia, CA) has great seats with armrests that adjust out of the way and brand spankin' new A/V equipment ... it's a sweet place to see a film.

  • Serendipity. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon,Bridget Moynahan, John Corbett, Eugene Levy.
  • Directed by Peter Chelsom.
  • Written by Marc Klein.
  • Produced by Simon Fields, Robert L. Levy at Miramax.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:29 PDT