Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

How old is fashion before it becomes the next big thing? Serendipity arrives straight out of the Forties, lightly brushed with a 21st century gloss. Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn are not available. How about John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale?

John is John, a little bumbly. Kate is English and drop-dead gorgeous. Will they set the heather on fire? No. Will they get it together? Maybe.

The concept is a romantic standard. Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) bump into each other at Bloomingdales, New York, one Christmas when they are shopping for presents. They spend the day together. She talks of destiny and won't tell him her name. He turns on the charm but doesn't know what to do with it. And then they say goodbye.

Years pass. They don't forget. He's about to be married, she's living with a pop singer. Will they meet again before ties are knotted? The answer's obvious, but the question is how. In fact, the whole movie is how.

Simple ideas like this can only work if you give a damn and the trouble here is that you never know enough about the characters to make a judgement. Jonathan's best man (Jeremy Piven) has the funniest lines, but he is comedy fodder, the sidekick with the one-liners. Jonathan is in a state because he's inches away from the altar and spends his time trying to discover Sara's name and where she lives. Sara is itchy for knowledge of him as well. She's in California, another time zone away, where her boyfriend (John Corbett) is putting finishing touches to his latest album before a European tour.

The way these movies are written, she could be in Timbuktoo and he in Alaska. It doesn't matter. They're going to find a way, because otherwise what's the point? The trick is to make it surprising, even interesting. It doesn't happen. Sara is a shrink, but that's all you know about her. People talk of Beckinsale's great sense of humour. Where? Not in this movie. Cusack does what he's always done, lay back and let things happen.

There is an art to light comedy. The gags must be crisp, the romance innocent, the confrontation sparking. And then there is the chemistry. What can you say about that? If it works, the rocket flies. If not, the squib is damp.

Serendipity leaves the ground but doesn't know where to go. It's short on fuel, which is sad because Beckinsale and Cusack are made for each other. In another life.

Reviewed on: 22 Dec 2001
Share this with others on...
Serendipity packshot
John Cusack searches for Kate Beckinsale before getting married to someone else.
Amazon link

Director: Peter Chelsom

Writer: Marc Klein

Starring: John Cusak, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, John Corbett, Eugene Levy

Year: 2001

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Just Like Heaven
Must Love Dogs