Eye For Film >> Movies >> Maid In Manhattan (2002) Film Review
Maid In Manhattan
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
It's been done a thousand times. The faces may change - J-Lo for Audrey, The English Patient for The Man From Laramie - but the story remains faithful to what is timeless, copper bottomed, sweet-old and sticky.
Marisa (Jennifer Lopez) is a hard working single mom, who takes her job as a maid at The Beresford Hotel, New York, seriously. Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) is the playboy son of a Republican politician, who is standing in the election for senator, despite being tabloid fodder and less than a credible candidate, being too casual for his stressed out campaign manager (ever wondrous Stanley Tucci) to cope with.
Chris meets Marisa when she's dolled up in someone else's designer clothes and thinks she's high class and dishy-or-what? She likes him because he's kind to her son (excellent Tyler Posey) and has a big, floppy dog.
He's hooked, she's scared. He thinks she's called Caroline and staying in one of the most expensive suites in the hotel. She puts on her uniform and hides behind its anonymity. He sends a luncheon invitation to the real Caroline (Natasha Richardson), a snobbish gold digger from Sotheby's, who sees him as a blue chip social investment.
The humour works best in-house, with the maids below stairs, especially Marisa's best friend Steph (a gutsy performance from Marissa Matrone). Richardson overacts outrageously and Bob Hoskins, as the hotel's butler-in-chief, is embarrassingly obsequious. Can this be the man who terrorised London's gangland in The Long Good Friday?
The film is in the same category as the Hugh Grant/Sandra Bullock misfit loveathon, Two Weeks Notice, except so much better. The script doesn't break new ground, or scintillate with New Yorker wit. It's directed by Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club, Smoke) and you can tell the difference. For one, the location work throughout the city is terrific.
How about the chemistry? Fiennes is surprisingly successful in the kind of romantic male lead he has consistently avoided up until now. For all his range, he has never done charm as well as this, if at all. Lopez appears to have been to Method school, which is not ideal for a comedy. Her performance has grit and determination, rather than lightness of touch.
Do sparks fly between them? The fire brigade is conspicuous by its absence.Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2003
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