In New York’s busy Bloomingdale’s in December 1990, two strangers bump into each other at the glove bar; Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) feel an instant attraction, despite having steadies to go home to. They flirt with fate, trying to work out if they really were destined to meet and be together. It seems not, and their lives continue, until several years later, on the eve of their respective weddings, they find their original feelings getting in the way. Does destiny really have their names written in a pair of gloves?
Reviewed by Louise Keller:
An amusing and enchanting romantic comedy, Serendipity is filled with playful charm, romance and delightful moments from its terrific cast. The premise tinkers with the notion that fate rules our lives, and if two people are destined to be together, they will find a way. Of course, it’s just pure balderdash, or if you’re a romantic you may find a dash of optimism in this enjoyable 87 minutes.
The success of the film lies in the hands of its two charismatic stars - John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale - who are instantly likeable and exude great screen chemistry. Like the two characters in Sleepless in Seattle, we really want them to find each other, and although they spend much of the film apart, we are holding our breath for them. There are some great characters that add depth and interest to the story, and I especially like Jeremy Piven (who is actually one of Cusack’s best friends in real life), and the chemistry shows. Piven and Cusack work very well together and they manage plenty of spontaneity in their various exchanges. Another actor to watch for is John Corbett (who plays Sara’s new age musician boyfriend). Corbett (who will be seen shortly in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) towers above everyone at 6’5”, and has a wonderful sense of comedy, but manages to keep his character within realms of credibility. He isn’t the only quirky character, however: Molly Shannon is very funny as Sara’s friend Eve, and Eugene Levy is divine as the Bloomingdale salesman. It’s a real feel-good film – from its wonderfully upbeat, jazzy soundtrack to its romantic happy ending.
If you enjoyed the film, you will love the DVD, which not only offers an in-depth behind the scenes featurette (interviews with cast and crew), but an excellent director’s commentary with Peter Chelsom that is both intelligent and informative. Serendipity is a film about being alive, he says, and quotes John Cusack’s philosophy for making a romantic comedy: ‘It is our duty to turn up and have fun.’ Otherwise, it shows, he says. And it certainly looks as though everyone is having a ball! From the very beginning of the film when time lapse photography is used, the audience is encouraged to look for the small details, and Chelsom is quick to point out each time an actor improvises his lines. There’s plenty of trivia – from the fake snow to whose hand really wrote Jonathan’s name and number on the $5 note. The highlights are the five deleted scenes, ranging from the opening scene at Bloomingdales, when Jonathan and Sara meet at the glove counter to the very first day of shooting for Beckinsale, who had flown in the day previously from Hawaii and the set of Pearl Harbor. There’s an optional commentary by Chelsom, which puts them in context as he explains why there weren’t included in the final cut, and how they were changed. Watch it with a friend, or if you’re alone and feeling a little down, snuggle up in bed and be swept away. Its appeal is contagious.
Published August 1, 2002
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Tony Rogers from Michael DVD advises that there are, in fact nine deleted scenes, and additional bonus features which were not clearly visible, due to the DVD's poor navigation.
SERENDIPITY: DVD (PG)
CAST: Kate Beckinsale, John Cusack, Molly Shannon, Jeremy Piven, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan and Eugene Levy
DIRECTOR: Peter Chelsom
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Starz/Encore ‘On the Set’ Featurette, Deleted scenes with Director’s Commentary, Still Gallery, Feature Commentary with director Peter Chelsom
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
DVD RELEASE: July 10, 2002