Serendipity is the story of John and Sarah, two people fated to meet, and who finally do over the last pair of cashmere gloves in Bloomingdales. After spending an incredible evening together, Sarah comes up with a way to test kismet and see if they are truly meant to be together. He will write his name on a $5 bill for her to spend, and see if it comes back to her. She will write her name inside a book to sell the next day, and see if he can find it.
John Cusack (High Fidelity, Cradle Will Rock) stars as the romantically challenged John. As a fan of Cusack, I am ready to send a huge virtual thank you to whichever member of his staff gave him a shove away from the oddness of films like Being John Malkovich, back towards movies like this where his fan base adores him. Cusack has perfected the befuddled man in love, and best of all he is incredibly easy to identify with in this role. Who hasn't spent time wondering if the one they are with is truly the one for them?
Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor) plays the object of John's renewal in faith, Sarah. Sadly the script doesn't give her a whole lot to do, and Beckinsale's charm does nothing but shine a light on that fact. Sarah's belief in fate really should have been elaborated on. Where did this belief come from? Had it helped or hindered past relationships? Unfortunately the extent of the information we are given about Sarah comes from the too short opening scenes, and the book she writes her name in and sells ('Love And Death In The Time Of Cholera'). This lets you know that she has expensive taste in gloves, and she reads depressing books. Beckinsale does breathe a lot of life into Sarah, but it's ultimately not enough to make her character three-dimensional.
It is worth making note of the performance of one of the best supporting actors working today, Jeremy Piven. (Grosse Pointe Blank, Larger Than Life) Here, Piven is playing John's best friend, an obituary writer for the New York Times. Piven's sarcastic brand of humour is a perfect foil for Cusack's earnestness.
Serendipity is a very well done romantic comedy. The storyline is sweet, and the majority of characters are likeable. It is simply the lack of development on the part of the female lead that keeps this from being on a level comparable with Sleepless In Seattle. Still, this is well worth renting.