SERENDIPITY (2001) 7TWO, 6.30PM, PG, DRAMA
In my copy of the Oxford Dictionary, the definition for serendipity is: “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” Well, this romantic comedy is certainly beneficial, mainly because I felt quite happy having seen it. But nothing has been left to chance here. The script is well-polished and the casting spot-on. This is the movie that should end up on the syllabus for aspiring directors at romantic comedy school. John Cusack, the thinking girl’s sex symbol, plays a hopeless romantic who meets, and falls for, Kate Beckinsale’s English rose while shopping for Christmas gifts in New York. They spend a few blissful hours together and, believing fate should decide whether they should meet again, leave their relationship in the lap of the gods. Years later, he’s still in New York and about to be married and she’s newly engaged in San Francisco. But, unable to put that one night out of their minds, they decide to test fate one last time. The story doesn’t contain any surprises – boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back again – and nor should it. Serendipity delights in other, less obvious ways. As Cusack and Beckinsale search for one another, near misses, coincidences and red herrings are liberally scattered in front of us. Surely this couple must meet now ... but they don’t and our expectation builds that little bit more. Jeremy Piven (as Cusack’s best mate) and Molly Shannon (as Beckinsale’s friend) have smaller, but eyecatching, roles. Eugene Levy, familiar mostly for the AmericanPie films (not to mention his eyebrows), comes close to stealing the show as an analretentive department store salesman. ★★★✩
It started with a kiss: Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack set hearts aflutter in Serendipity.