Starring: John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Molly Shannon
Director: Peter Chelsom
Running Time: 90 mins
Serendipity is an American film about a man and a woman who spend a magical night together in New York City, and years after their separation, fate begins to bring their paths back into line with one another.
Cheesy, by-the-book and oh-so-predictable, everything about Serendipity says that it should be one of the most unbearably schmaltzy romantic comedies out there. And yet, this is one of the few films that absolutely nails the magic of the genre, with a fluffy, heartwarming story that blends hopelessly optimistic romanticism with lovable characters, winning performances, delightful humour and a dash of Hollywood magic.
It makes me sound crazy just to say it, but I absolutely adored every minute of Serendipity. Sure, it’s not the world’s most original, most ambitious or even most touching tale, but it’s a movie that knows exactly how to entertain an audience that know exactly what they want.
The sappiest of romantic comedies are often a litmus test for the coldest-hearted of us – and believe me, I’m right up there when it comes to boredom with the fluffiest films in the genre. However, Serendipity somehow manages to make all of the tedious, unbearable, trivial clichés of the Hollywood rom-com work like magic, telling a truly wonderful tale that made my heart soar.
From the gorgeous chemistry of leads John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale – who barely share any screen time throughout – to the captivating romantic subplots which, while far from unpredictable, only add to the warm, familiarly cosy narrative, and set the story up for the a classic, crowd-pleasing finale that feels so satisfying after an hour and a half of desperate waiting.
Serendipity is a film that understands the magic of the romantic comedy, and isn’t afraid to be a little silly and a little dreamy when it comes to telling a truly heartwarming story. The film’s Sliding Doors-esque narrative may seem ridiculous at times, but it’s all caught up in a magical, mysterious atmosphere that makes the romantic longing of its two leads such an irresistible story to follow.
Bolstered by a sharp, witty screenplay with lots of laughs, this is a film that goes from strength to strength as it unfolds, becoming cheesier, sappier and ever more formulaic as it goes on, but in doing so becoming even more lovable.
There are few romantic comedies that get the tried and tested Hollywood formula so right, but Serendipity really is a magical watch. Maybe there’s something about the cynic in me today that just wasn’t up to the task, but I couldn’t help but love every minute of Serendipity, one of the most delightful romantic comedies of the 21st century. So, that’s why I’m giving it an 8.1 overall.