Review Date: November 18, 2000
Director: Don Roos
Writer: Don Roos
Producers: Michael Besman, Steve Golin
A cocky guy who wants to stay in town to nail a girl he just met in a bar gives his plane ticket away to a nice guy who wants to get home to his family in time for Christmas. The plane crashes and everyone aboard it dies. The cocky guy suddenly feels very bad about his place in life and the wife of the nice guy is heartbroken about the loss of her husband. One year later, after getting out of rehab, the cocky guy turns into a nicer guy and follows his guilty conscience to meet the widow of the deceased man. Without her knowing who he is, they start to develop a nice relationship together.
A solid relationship movie which cannot be brushed aside with the simple tag of a "chick flick". This film delivers on many fronts including an interesting story, drama, humor, engaging characters and surprisingly, a decent helping of multi-leveled acting. I could generally tell if a "sad movie" touches me just by the appearance of water in my eyes, and this son-of-a-bitch had me tearing up left and right. Nice. I call this is a "sad movie" because it is not an upbeat film by any stretch of the imagination. It's serious, it deals with a very painful subject and it doesn't pretend to phony up to many of the Hollywood standards. The ending is left ajar, the complicated feelings associated with the characters in the film are massaged from top to bottom and the relationship is not automatically cured with a catch phrase. Basically, the film gives us a true to life tale of a bad stretch in the lives of two people, during which they must come to terms with their own feelings of guilt and unworthiness, before tackling a relationship with another. The film is also moved along by this whole connection between the two main characters, but that part of the film didn't interest me as much as their own inner-struggles. In fact, I thought that the revelation of the so-called "secret" to Gwyneth's character took a little too long to be divulged.
I mean, as an audience member, we are in on the concealment from the get-go and the waiting game just starts to weigh on you after a while. Acting-wise, I was quite surprised by the performance put forth here by Ben Affleck, who has proven to be a pro at banging out the charisma, looking great and running and shooting at the same time, but here he takes it all onto another level. He makes you like his character despite his many, many flaws. He also made me cry, and for that, kudos go out to you, young man. Keep up the solid work. Gwyneth was also very believable as the other half of this film, especially since she had to play against type, a regular woman with regular problems. In the end, the characters and the chemistry between the two leads are what make this story work because you believe in their sorrow, their hurt and their eventual resolution of issues. I can't say that I found too many things wrong with this movie. The story was an interesting one. The characters were believable and well played out. The touching moments were touching and the lighter moments light. I guess I would've preferred less time spent keeping the secret away from Gwynnie, but that's just a small miscalculation, in my humble opinion. Overall, I doubt that this film will win any awards or cha-chink its way through the box-office, but for me, it was definitely one of the nicer surprise movies of the year. The kind that you'll either really like or really think sucks.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian