I imagine most people who’ve seen Serendipity saw it because of a desire to see charming John Cusack and charming Kate Beckinsale brought together by fate and fall in love and live happily ever after. So I also imagine most of those same people were extremely disappointed because instead they got a Lloyd Dobler-wannabe and a waif being total childish assholes.
If you’re like me, you knew the whole thing starts with Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meeting because they both grab the same pair of gloves at Bloomingdale’s, causing them to go on a are-we-fated-to-be-together journey. And that’s true, but here’s how it goes down: Jonathan, who is in a relationship, grabs the same pair of gloves to buy as Sara, who is in a relationship. Despite said relationships, they get ice cream together. They leave the ice cream parlor (called Serendipity 3, ugh) to go on their separate ways, but they find each other there again after they both realize they’ve left something behind at the ice cream parlor. Again, despite their relationships, Jonathan and Sara take this as a sign that they should . . . well, not be together, but enough to go on a more extended date around the city. At the end of the night, Sara, who is in a relationship, gives her phone number to Jonathan, but the piece of paper flies away in the wind. Sara also takes that as a sign, and I guess negating the previous signs of the gloves and the ice cream parlor, so she has Jonathan write his number on a $5 bill that she immediately spends and she writes her number inside a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera that she has in her purse for some reason with the intention of selling the book to a used bookstore the following morning. IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH OF THE FUCKING SIGNS FOR YOU, THERE’S MORE! Jonathan, who is in a relationship, decides that they should go into the Waldorf-Astoria together, get on elevators, and if they choose the same floor, they’re meant to be! Luckily for us, they do choose the same floor! So the movie should be over, right? Wrong, because that’s idiotic because of course something is going to happen in an elevator, like a child pressing all the buttons in Jonathan’s elevator, so they . . . DON’T end up together! So the movie should still be over, right?
Wrong. Years later, Jonathan is engaged to someone and Sara is engaged to someone. Despite that, for some reason (ie they DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED TO THE PEOPLE THEY’RE WITH) they decide to try and find each other again. After both receiving sign after sign saying they should be together and they shouldn’t be together, ultimately they finally fucking get together because jesus christ make a decision already. And how does Jonathan find Sara again? His sad, unknowing fiance gives him the copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with Sara’s number in it as a wedding gift. Thanks, fiance, and fuck you!!!!!
A similar (not identical) situation is presented in the Richard Linklater’s Before series: the characters don’t exchange information but instead choose to meet at a certain time and location, and if it works they’re meant to be together. It doesn’t work, but they still end up together, but only after both admitting how childish and naive of a plan that was. Instead of basing their entire lives on this one thing, they move on, find each other again, and admit that they were stupid to think their big fate idea would ever work in the first place. Serendipity could really use a dose of that self-awareness.
This is a movie I thought was around longer than it was. For some reason I thought Sandra Bullock was the female lead but I was totally wrong since it’s Kate Beckinsale. But it’s a romcom where I really don’t know why anyone would like it? It’s full of too many terrible people that shouldn’t be getting married.
A trope that shows up almost every time is that the conflict comes when the main character is supposed to marry someone other than the one they want. WHY IS THAT A STORY? Why can’t these characters just be real people and call it off? Why do they need to put the other person through so much shit, just in case the other romance doesn’t work out?
I’m glad I saw this since I’ve seen the cover forever but the idea that anyone would be invested in these people’s stories seems like a joke.