Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Only You (1994) [PG] ***+


To paraphrase Shakespeare: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But for Faith (Marisa Tomei), her destiny is named Damon Bradley, spelled out in a Ouija board game with her older brother Larry (Fisher Stevens) when she was eleven. Fast-forward fourteen years and Faith is a middle-school English teacher; she's a romantic who loves opera and still believes in destiny. Unfortunately, she's engaged to Dwayne (John Benjamin Hickey), a boring, practical podiatrist who hasn't got a romantic bone in his body. Ten days before the wedding Faith takes a phone call for Dwayne; it's an old friend who's on his way to JFK airport, bound for Venice, Italy - and his name is Damon Bradley.

Throwing caution to the wind, Faith heads for the airport. She misses Damon, but convinces her sister-in-law Kate (Bonnie Hunt) to go with her to Venice. They trail Damon to Rome where Faith meets Peter Wright (Robert Downey Jr.) a shoe salesman from Boston. Peter has a love-at-first-sight experience; he's convinced Faith is his destiny, and when Kate explains why she and Faith are in Rome, Peter has no choice but to pretend to be Damon Bradley.

This is a sweet romantic comedy that grows on you. Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. have great romantic chemistry, and they're easy to look at. Production values are excellent with lovely costumes and sets, a beautiful soundtrack including the romantic Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific, and gorgeous cinematography of the canals of Venice, the countryside of Tuscany, the fountains of Rome and the picturesque coastal villages of southern Italy. Bonnie Hunt is terrific in a supporting role, as is Joaquim de Almeida as Giovanni, Kate's Ferrari-driving, Roman paramour. Written by Diane Drake, whose only other writing credit is the equally romantic What Women Want, the film was directed by the incomparable Norman Jewison. If you enjoy love stories in which destiny takes a hand, like Sleepless in Seattle, don't miss Only You.

Labels: comedy, romance
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=55, viewers=66)

The car driven by Joaquim de Almeida in Only You is a 1986 Ferrari Mondial 3.2.