Cusack & Beckinsale Get Coincidental
Released in 2001 "Serendipity" which stars John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale is a romantic comedy which in a way pays homage to "An Affair to Remember", in that two people who meet but part company then meet up again years later. But it builds upon the storyline bringing in fate that if these two people were meant to be together then the stars would align and fate would somehow bring them back together, which in turn makes it a little similar to "Only You". With all this similarity "Serendipity" despite being an enjoyable movie is completely predictable and although has some magical moments and romantic scenes has far too many average moments to counter balance them.
Whilst shopping for Christmas presents, Jonathan (John Cusack - America's Sweethearts) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale - Vacancy) unexpectedly meet when they both pick up the same pair of gloves. Hitting it off immediately they end up having coffee together in a little place known as 'Serendipity'. But then Sara decides that if they are truly destined for each other then fate will bring them back together and departs from Jonathan's life as quickly as she entered. Many years later, and with both Jonathan and Sara in new relationships, they both still believe that one day they will meet again as it is their destiny to be together.
Now I really enjoyed "Serendipity" and found it for the most an entertaining, glossy romantic comedy, but it does have two major problems. The first of which is that the opening scenes which sees Jonathan & Sara's serendipitous meeting is so magically romantic, with the chemistry between John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale lighting up the screen, that what follows never manages to match it. It has to be one of the best opening sequences to a romantic comedy I have watched grabbing your attention as it sucks you into this magical moment when two people meet and realise that they are soul mates. It had me transfixed but then because of the nature of the storyline what follows just can't compete, even feeling a little run of the mill in comparison.
Secondly, and it's down to the nature of "Serendipity", that it is seriously predictable. In a movie where two people meet only to part despite being perfect for each other, well we know that a fairytale ending is the order of the day. This means that in between the magical start and finish you have a movie about two people trying to find each other again and it's the journey they both take which has to carry the movie. The trouble is despite a few close meets, the various signs - most of which are far too obvious and of course a storyline which has to be contrived to allow for all the near misses it isn't that special. It also feels surprisingly dragged out with the magical beginning and ending taking up nowhere near enough time. It's a case of that it works to start with but then becomes repetitive as it declines into one scene after another where a sign leads one of them a little closer to the other.
The knock on effect of this run off the mill middle part to the movie is that all the romance is pretty much lost. Did I find myself championing either Sara or Jonathan to find the other, well no not really because the immediacy of their quest to find each other is lacking. There just didn't really feel like any urgency to find each other despite numerous scenes showing their efforts to do so. This meant for me that the romance was lost relying on the humour of all this searching action to carry it. Talking of which the humour for the most is quite subtle if not a little obvious as the laughs generated by each other searching is the same sort of thing done in various other movies. Although for the most the comedy works, there are elements such as Sara's boyfriend Lars who is some sort of popular musician playing mystical eastern music just fails to be anything other than a cheap tool to try and derive a laugh which actually fails in its quest.
But what saves "Serendipity" is the inspired pairing of John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale who make the movie much better than it is. Beckinsale is utterly adorable, with a beautiful English accent and a face which exudes warmth in her role as Sara, she's the sort of girl you would feel comfortable taking home to meet your mother. Whilst opposite John Cusack, who is a very good romantic lead, delivers the intensity in his performance especially the quick witted dialogue which he is so good at. In the scenes together there is such a great chemistry that they do look and act like perfect soul mates, the loving stares the natural conversation it all works brilliantly. It's just a shame that they spend the majority of the movie as separate entities.
Support performance wise well Jeremy Piven does an adequate job as Jonathan's best friend and yet again the talented Eugene Levy finds himself in another underused character as a shop assistant who helps Jonathan discover where his soul mate lived. All in all the supporting performances in general are okay, allowing John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale to be the focal point of the movie even when they are not in the same scene as each other.
What all this boils down to is that I can see why many people like "Serendipity" for the most it's good fun, well acted, with wonderful moments of glossy romantic magic. But then it is very predictable and not overly original either as you spend most of the movie watching the two main characters as separate entities. It has its problems most notably the introduction sequence is so good that the rest of the movie fails in comparison. But it is enjoyable, it is worth a watch and it is a little bit better than most romantic comedies so give it a go.