Sandra Bullock seems intent on establishing herself as
Hollywood's queen of romantic comedies. However, she is hampered by
the fact that most of her films seem to come from the scripts that Meg
Ryan rejects. Such is the case with Forces Of Nature, an
unspectacular romantic comedy exploring the attraction between
opposites and the role that fate and destiny play in changing our
lives. In many ways, it also seems like an unsatisfactory version of
Planes, Trains, And Automobiles. Mild mannered and straight laced Ben
Holmes (Ben Affleck) is about to be married to Bridget (Maura Tierney,
from Liar Liar, etc). Unfortunately, his plane crashes on take-off,
stranding Ben in New York, with only a couple of days left to get to
the wedding. That's when he meets the free spirited and
unconventional Sarah (Bullock), whose life has been shaped by a lack
of commitment and responsibility. She offers to get him to the church
on time if he will agree to perform one small favour in return.
This mismatched couple share a journey, fraught with tension
and strange encounters, which also redefines their unfulfilled lives.
Ben learns to lighten up and have some fun in his routine life, while
Sarah is brought to a realisation of what she has missed due to her
lack of commitment. Meanwhile in Savannah, the wedding preparations
are further threatened by rising hurricane force winds and imminent
marital storms. Bridget also learns that her parents' seemingly happy
marriage is a little more unsteady than she thought.
The forces of nature seem to be conspiring to tell Ben something.
If only he can take the hints and learn which way the wind is blowing
(metaphorically speaking) he may be able to make the right decision
that will shape his future.
Writer Marc Lawrence (Life With Mikey, the upcoming remake of
The Out Of Towners) throws in a number of mixed messages about the
institution of marriage. However, Forces Of Nature offers little that
is new to the basic formula. This is only a moderately entertaining
film that will leave many in the audience feeling vaguely unsatisfied,
especially with the rather conventional ending. The film is patchy,
and ultimately fails to follow through with its interesting premise.
Director Bronwen Hughes (Harriet The Spy) brings little subtlety to
the material, and there are a number of scenes that misfire.
Affleck is rather good as the stiff and initially humourless
Ben who learns to unwind and treat life as an adventure. Bullock
brings energy and enthusiasm to her role, and seems more comfortable
here than she has for some time. The film relies heavily upon its
star power to succeed, but unfortunately that just isn't enough here!
Copyright © 2000 Greg King