SERENDIPITY was released in theaters on October 5th, 2001. But before that, Miramax did what all studios do with their movies and screened it to test audiences several months earlier. My girlfriend and I were living in Kansas City at the time and as we were standing in line to buy tickets to another movie, a PR rep came over and asked us if we wanted to see the new John Cusack film and then talk about it afterwards. This was the first test screening for both of us and being young movie fans, we were very excited. Flash forward to October 5th, 2001 and through the use of a few contacts I had, I was able to get access to a theater early that morning. I invited my girlfriend to see the movie and as the end credits popped up, a message asking her to marry me soon followed. Ten years later, SERENDIPITY still holds a special place in our hearts.
I assume SERENDIPITY doesn’t have special meaning to everyone’s relationship with their spouse, so most of you look at this as just another movie. With that in mind, there are some things you have to accept if you’re going to get anything out of this. The first being that you’ll have to come to terms with the quirkiness of Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) and her belief in fate being the catalyst for the entire film. Really, if she would have been more level headed in the beginning, the rest of the movie wouldn’t have happened. Once you get past that, then you have to accept that everything is going to work out and none of it will make logical sense. This is an indulgent romantic comedy and if you can’t buy into it, you’re not going to get anything out of it.
That said, the adventure of Sara and Jonathan (John Cusack) is a fun ride for the audience. We like them from the very beginning of their relationship as they accidentally bump into each other at Bloomingdales and from that point on, we want them to be together. But Sara’s aforementioned obsession with fate pulls them apart and when the film jumps to three years later, we learn that Jonathan is engaged to another woman. That sets in motion a series of coincidences that bring Sara and Jonathan back together…but it’s not easy. The ride to get them back together is what makes this film so much fun and even the most cynical of us can’t help but get goosebumps when Jonathan’s fiancée gives him his wedding gift.
Of course, the suspension of disbelief is made easier by the wonderfully charming performances from leads John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, along with strong supporting turns from Jeremy Piven (Dean) and Molly Shannon (Eve) as Jonathan and Sara’s best friends. Jonathan and Sara were the ones on the crazy, surreal ride while Dean and Eve kept them, and the movie, grounded in reality. Eugene Levy showed up for some comic relief as the Bloomingdales clerk that reluctantly helps out Jonathan, but I found his antics more annoying than humorous.
So maybe I’m not the best person to be reviewing this film or advising you on whether or not you should check it out. But I’d like to think that even without the personal connection to the film, I’d be able to find it charming and sweet.
Video: SERENDIPITY has never looked better and one thing I noticed this time around that I had missed before was some of the beauty and creativity from cinematographer John de Borman. He did a nice job and it shows on this Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Commentary with Peter Chelsom: Listening to Peter Chelsom talk about how much he loves this film actually made me like the film more. He gives a very good commentary and is very easy to listen to as he goes on about how much fun he had making the film. This is a good listen if you have it on in the background, but I don’t know if you’ll learn a whole lot about the film.
Deleted scenes (15:50): It seems that a lot of these scenes are featured in the trailer, which is frustrating for me. My wife also swears that many of these were in the first cut of the film, but I don’t remember one way or the other.
Starz Encore On The Set (19:56): These behind the scenes featurettes from the Starz channel used to pop up on every other disc, but I haven’t seen too many of them the last couple of years. Anyway, this is exactly what you think it is and is mainly designed to get you to want to see the film.
Peter Chelsom’s Production Diary: I can’t say I’m a fan of text based features on a Blu-ray, but if you take the time, there are some interesting tidbits here. I would have preferred this information show up in the commentary.