This year's date movie, the point of "Serendipity" is not to avoid familiar
cliches and totally predictable outcomes but rather to provide a vehicle for
romance, love and a couple of attractive movie stars. In such sentimental
products, one only hopes that the pairing offered is not itself overfamiliar,
and here we have a positive note. While we may have seen John Cusack in
somewhat similar circumstances before, the newer actor on the scene, Kate
Beckinsale, has been destined for this kind of star-making effort. With her
looks and personality one can only imagine that there was a line up of very
willing male actors to act beside her.
The title says it all. The cute meet between Jonathan Trager (Cusack) and
Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) is not only serendipity itself (fortunate
discovery by accident) but takes place in a store called "Serendipity".
Please. Like maybe we wouldn't get the point?
Both not only have other halves but both are engaged to be married. Is this
a parallel universe or what? But, they clearly like each other and while
Trager is more than willing to give a second love a chance, Thomas plays with
the issue of destiny. They laugh, they kid, they have chemistry to burn, yet
she leaves him without even her name. She will live to regret it.
Marking out a middle section for the script to operate, she has him write
his name and number on a five dollar bill and, without glancing at it, puts
it into circulation. She then writes her name and number in a copy of
Gabriel Garcia Marquez' novel, "Love in the Time of
Cholera" and, later, sells it to an unnamed bookstore. Boy, does this
lady like to live dangerously. The idea, of course, is that if either the
bill or the book get into the hands of the other, their destiny together will
override all other romances in their lives. And, she's a psychotherapist
Want to guess how it turns out? Well, if you're truly interested, seeing the
movie is the thing to do because you're obviously a romantic and can't get
enough of this stuff. Those with a weaker inclination in that direction
might be better pleased to wait for the DVD or cable release. The rest of us
will be content to stick with our guess, which is destined to be correct.
Kate Beckinsale proves a more than worthy romantic ideal for the role, coming
off the unsuccessful "Pearl Harbor" and the even less successful "The
Golden Bowl". Not
to worry for this little lady, in any event. After years of not quite making
us remember her name (did you know she was the other girl in "The Last Days
of Disco", 1998, opposite Chloe Sevigny?) someone is now trying very hard to
make a star out of her and this film might do it. If it doesn't, it will be
through no fault of hers and her agent is probably inundated with script
offers. Yes, she can certainly do romance.
Cusack has his charms, as well, and the only difference here is that he's
established his in a much longer line of work. He doesn't do his career any
harm in taking this kind of romantic leading man role but there was a time
his keen taste in challenging material shone more brightly, as in the
classic, "The Grifters" (1990). Such opportunities for incisiveness and
intelligence seem to be escaping him of late, though he doesn't fail to hold
up his end very well every time out, as in the recent "America's
In real life Jeremy Piven is Cusack's close buddy and here, that naturally
close relationship plays well as Trager's sidekick, confidante and chief
supporter, Dean Kansky. He gives loyalty a good name.
In any case, the universe might not be parallel but this story is told in
its own parallel dimensions where coincidence and dramatic control flourish.
See it if romantic fantasy pleases you enough to overlook
plausibility. It's made for you.