Writer/Director: Peter Howitt
Running time: 94 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 1st May 1998
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 14th October 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I know this is not the type of film I’d usually watch but I do like to mix things up once in a while and have a look at something different. I’m told this is one of the better examples of the genre and so it was duly added to ‘The List’. An interesting film with a nice take on the ‘What If’ storyline used so eloquently in Frank Capra's ‘It's a Wonderful Life’ (1946) and several other films over the years. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Having just lost her job in PR, Helen heads home early. She’s in London and so takes the tube; and this is where things begin to change. One moment she makes it on time to catch the train and her life takes one path… The next moment she misses the train and her life takes a totally different path... I won’t go into specifics here, not wishing to give too much away to those that haven’t seen it, but we now switch between these two very different lives. Admittedly it is helped by her changing her hairstyle in one of them so it’s quite easy to tell just which life we’re looking at.
Very well made with a nice witty script and a decent pace so it doesn’t get bogged down too much. It does look slightly dated though, but that’s mostly to do with things like fashion and technology. Decent performances all round; particularly from Gwyneth Paltrow as Helen, John Hannah as James, John Lynch as Jerry, Jeanne Tripplehorn as Lydia and Zara Turner as Anna. Finally, an honourable mention for Douglas McFerran as Russell.
I must admit I did find the premise of this film quite interesting; how just a couple of seconds at a crucial moment can make drastic changes to a life did intrigue me. I did enjoy the way it was done but ultimately it is about feelings and relationships which is fine as far as it goes. It did leave me with a few questions by the end and I see that as a good thing; there were certain things open to interpretation and any film that does that is always going to be worth a look, in my view. I will admit I did enjoy it up to a point; I found the characters quite engaging, there is some great dialogue and I even recognised one or two of the tunes! Over all, worth a look but I feel its one of those I’ll only watch once (although I’ve been wrong about that before).
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.2/10
IMDb Score: 6.7/10 (based on 34,471 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 59/100: (Based on 23 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 73/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 61,018 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Anna: Are you okay?
Helen: Yes, just going quietly mad.
Anna: Thank goodness for that. I was worried.
Helen: For God's sake, Gerry. I asked you a simple question; there is no need for you to become Woody Allen.
Russell: You want my opinion?
Gerry: Will I like it?
Russell: Well, of course not! It'll be based in reality.
Patron in Restaurant where Helen is a waitress: Hey, gorgeous. What do you do when you're not serving up mad cow burgers in here, eh?
Helen: Well, now, then, let me see. I get up at about 7:30AM making and delivering sandwiches in the West End during the day before I come here about 6 o'clock and finish at midnight. After that, if I've got any energy left, I give my boyfriend a blow job.
Helen: Would you like some mayonnaise with that?
James: Hands up if you drank too much, eh?
Helen: Hey, I'm not as drunk as thinkle peep I am.
Anna: Put a wick in her mouth and she'd burn for a fortnight.
James: Everything happens for the best. You'll never know if you don't try.