In the realm of escapist filmmaking, Hollywood has brought its mainstream audience another mediocre film to satisfy our craving for entertainment.
Peter Chelsom’s Serendipity explores existentialism and destiny in a wildly romanticized New York City. Although the film brings some unfamiliar elements to the romantic comedy genre, those attributes fail to outweigh its static and predictable atmosphere.
On the final days before Christmas, two perfect strangers, Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale), meet at a glove rack in a chaotic department store. Immediately attracted to each other, the two spend the next couple of hours in fairy-tale heaven. After a night of bliss, Sara insists that they must let fate decide their destiny.
Instead of exchanging phone numbers, Sara writes her information in a book (“Love in the Time of Cholera”), and Jonathan reluctantly writes his on a five dollar bill. According to Sara’s rationale, if they receive each other’s information they are meant to be. So faith now lies in secondhand book stores and money circulation.
A decade later, recent engagements and 3,000 miles now separate Sara and Jonathan. Sara has ditched her belief in soul mates while Jonathan focuses on his wedding. Suddenly, their worlds are disrupted and the search for each other begins.
Throughout the remainder of the film, the audience is involved in a roller coaster of pursuits. The abundance of plot twists not only leaves the viewer exhausted but masks the film’s primary weakness — poor character development.
The highlights were truly from the supporting actors. Dean (Jeremy Piven) and Eve (Molly Shannon) play devil’s advocates and best friends to Jonathan and Sara respectively. Their performances are fresh, humorous and dynamic. In fact, Piven’s vividness steals much of the limelight from Cusack.
As the Twin Towers hovered over us in a couple of Central Park scenes, Serendipity indirectly revealed one important truth: no matter how hard we try, some things are purely inescapable.