Forces of Nature (1999)

Forces of Nature (1999)
 
 
 

Can Bullock and Affleck Weather the Storm

I haven't known you that long, but I think there may be something wrong with you - Ben

Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck in Forces of Nature

"Forces of Nature" wants to be a romantic comedy but not your everyday no brainer romantic comedy but one which is soaked in style and has a depth to its purpose. So whilst it takes two standard ideas of a journey from hell where anything and everything goes wrong and interlinks it with the character of Ben Holmes who's trying to make it to his own wedding but starts having doubts as the signs suggest he shouldn't be getting married, it tries to make them more interesting through the styling. The daft thing is that I can see what director Bronwen Hughes was trying to do with all the styling, the arty colours and strange array of camera angles but it ends up spoiling the movie. These moments of style end up jarring with the romantic comedy and so scenes where you should end up laughing ending up weaker because we get some strange camera technique encroaching. And what is kind of annoying is that with out all the styling and attempts to be different "Forces of Nature" might have been rather normal and familiar but it would have been funnier.

With his wedding just a couple of days away, Ben Holmes (Ben Affleck - Armageddon) a book jacket blurbologist is trying to make his way down to Savannah. But when the plane he boards doesn't even get to take off thanks to a bird flying into the engine it is just the start of an arduous journey full of problems which start to make him question if getting married is the right thing. He also starts to wonder if he is doing the right thing when he is accompanied on the journey by Sara (Sandra Bullock - Practical Magic) who needs to get to Savannah for different reasons and whilst very different they end up hitting it off.

Maura Tierney as Bridget Cahill in Forces of Nature

So as already mentioned "Forces of Nature" does employ some rather traditional formulas, combining them to make a reasonably decent storyline. Right from the opening scene where we watch Ben on his stag night you can guess that something bad will happen leading to a sign that he shouldn't get married to his fiancée Bridget. And this continues throughout as there is basically one sign after another from people telling him how bad married life is through to accidents which prevent him from travelling to Savannah. Which leads nicely into the whole journey from hell thing which if you think of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and you will know exactly what to suspect as Ben and Sarah have one disaster after another as they both try and travel to Savannah. Yes it is all rather obvious but the way these two storylines are brought together works, well sort of as the whole sign element is seriously forced, at times manufactured beyond belief but still amusing.

But the annoying thing is that director Bronwen Hughes tries to make "Forces of Nature" more than just another easy going romantic comedy and she does this by lavishing it with style. We get a series of camera angles, low level shots, close ups and high shots pointing down all of which have subdued pallets and sadly rather than making "Forces of Nature" feel clever end up being a distraction. It all feels a bit too experimental and like a Steven Soderbergh movie but one where it's style for styles sake, jarring with the actual story and humour.

But it is also the attempts to be quirkily amusing and romantic which also end up feeling wrong and a series of scenes which start with the rather peculiar raining on hub caps scene and ending with a prolonged supermarket scene just ends up feeling out of context with it being a romantic comedy. In fact it gets worse and in trying to be different I can only say that I seriously disliked the ending with it's twist and an indulgent artsy feel, it almost makes what went before utterly pointless. I am sure those who tire of obvious romantic comedies will enjoy all the styling but for me it ends up spoiling what could have been both a simple and fun movie.

As for the performances well in many ways they border on being what you expect from Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock. That means that individually they play their characters efficiently Affleck giving us the element of the unsure husband to be quite nicely whilst Sandra Bullock being totally opposite to him oozes sex which is obviously played on in a surprisingly sexy bath scene. But then the chemistry between them is zilch, yes they have fun together and grow to like each other but as the storyline leads us to believe they fall in love, I didn't believe it for a minute. And sadly because "Forces of Nature" is basically all about their characters the supporting cast which include the lovely Maura Tierney and the funny Steve Zahn never get a chance to shine.

What this all boils down to is that "Forces of Nature" just didn't work for me and whilst I commend anyone for trying to make a romantic comedy different to the norm what director Bronwen Hughes does with the styling and the twist just doesn't work. And ironically without these elements "Forces of Nature" would have been very obvious but it would also have been fun rather than being a movie which I ended up struggling to keep interested in.

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