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Single mother Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) has made a decent life for herself and her ten-year-old son, Ty (Tyler Garcia Posey), working as a maid at the five star Beresford Hotel. One Saturday while Marisa and another maid Stephanie (Marissa Matrone) are doing their chores, socialite hotel guest Caroline Lane (Natasha Richardson) asks Marisa to return some designer clothes for her. Stephanie persuades Marisa to try them on, and just at that moment in walks handsome, aspiring US senator Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes), who mistakenly believes she is the socialite guest. It’s a case of instant attraction, but Marisa is reluctant to encourage Christopher, fearing she’ll lose everything she has worked so hard to build. 

Review by Louise Keller:
An enchanting Cinderella story, Maid In Manhattan rises above the city skyscrapers to offer a delightful interlude for those who love happily-ever-after entertainment. A mix of Pretty Woman, You’ve Got Mail and Notting Hill, here’s a film whose whole is much more than the sum of its parts. Wayne Wang (Anywhere But Here, Chinese Box) uses finesse and a light touch to swirl all the ingredients together gently to create a romantic comedy with humour, heart and a touch of magic. 

What elevates the film above the run-of-the-mill, is the superb supporting cast that forms a solid foundation to the tale. Stanley Tucci steals many of his scenes with impeccable timing and great one-liners tinged with self-deprecating humour, and while Natasha Richardson’s socialite Caroline may be a little over the top, I think most of us have met that snooty, overbearing type who is well worth avoiding. Bob Hoskins is solid as the butler who sees more than he lets on, and 12 year old Tyler Posey (son of actor, John) is terrific as Marisa’s son Ty, displaying real emotions and making us care for him. 

Of course it’s predictable, formulaic and filled with clichés, but Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes make such a likeable couple, that we just can’t wait for them to get together. Lopez shines like a diamond – and nothing, not even a maid’s unflattering outfit can mask the pedigree. Fiennes has that quietly charismatic personality that makes less so much more, his steely grey eyes spelling sincerity. Together, they ignite plenty of sparks, although the PG rating means that we don’t see much more than the sort of dreamy kiss expected in fairy tales. 

The script is surprisingly sharp and there’s a wonderful ambience through the back doors of the Beresford Hotel where the maid and staff look as thought they’re having a great time, it almost made me want to be a maid! What camaraderie, jokes and jives, dancing and prancing – life seems much more fun downstairs than up. 

When Marisa appears at the benefit gala wearing an eye-popping pale pink strapless gown that looks as though it could have been painted on and dazzling jewellery to boot, it is the defining Cinderella moment. The press conference at the end of the film is reminiscent of that in Notting Hill, when Hugh Grant asks Julia Roberts how long she intends to stay in England, but in this case, the pivotal character may come as a surprise. Your fingers will snap and your feet will tap to Alan Silvestri’s pleasing soundtrack and your heart will smile non stop. A genuinely feel good film for lovers of any age, Maid in Manhattan is a dream come true.

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CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Posey

PRODUCER: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Paul Schiff, Deborah Schindler

DIRECTOR: Wayne Wang

SCRIPT: Kevin Wade (John Hughes, story)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Karl Walter Lindenlaub

EDITOR: Craig McKay

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes



VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: August 6, 2003 (Also on DVD)

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