(director/writer: Gerard Stembridge; cinematographer: Bruno De Keyser; editor: Mary Finlay; cast: Stuart Townsend (Adam), Frances O’Connor (Laura), Charlotte Bradley (Alice), Kate Hudson (Lucy), Alan Maher (David), Rosaleen Linehan (Peggy), Kathleen Bradley (Karen), Tommy Tiernan (Simon), Brendan F. Dempsey (Martin); Runtime: 105; Miramax; 2000-UK / Ireland)
“I had a belly full of this guy long before the film ended.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A fluff sitcom, romantic comedy, that is so charming that it eventually suffocates on all the charm it gives off. It is cleverly written and directed by Irish playwright Gerard Sternbridge, who can’t stop showing off how clever he is able to make his main character. The film was shot almost a year before “Almost Famous” made Kate Hudson into a celebrity, and a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress. The American female lead spent some time before shooting the film undetected in Dublin, as she perfected her Irish accent and tried to convince everyone she met that she was Irish. She was able to blend in to the Irish scene because of her then obscurity.
The film which was buried in mothballs got a new lease on life through Harvey Weinstein and his Miramax people, and was re-released to a wider audience. In any case, Kate does a flawless Irish accent. She’s the daughter of Goldie Hawn and the step-daughter of Kurt Russell which should, in any case, get her some attention in Hollywood circles.
The film is about a mysteriously engaging young man, Adam (Stuart Townsend), who charms three sisters and ends up marrying one of them. He’s a bullshit artist extraordinaire, with an easy manner who cunningly knows how to reach out to women, which was mildly satisfactory for about 45 minutes but after that became annoying. His gracious smile soon looked too smug and unbecoming, as the story had no particular relevancy. I have seen too many recent films with unfeeling studs and would rather not see another one with the same tone. This film resolved itself in the cute way the story was heading, a ‘feel good’ film for those with an amoral bent and a belief that having sex with as many women as possible is the best thing one can do to improve relationships.
Lucy (Hudson) is a combined torch singer and waitress in a Dublin pub, who has just ended a relationship with a pub comedian named Simon and is disheartened that she can’t find any of the local boys to love. When Adam enters the pub, she’s immediately attracted to him and happy that he’s both so shy and friendly. She invites him home on their first date and he meets the entire family. Mr. Right impresses her widowed mom Peg (Linehan) with his clean-cut looks; her brother David (Maher) is attracted to him physically and charmed by his way with women; younger sister Laura (O’Connor), a bookish 19th-century scholar doing a thesis on the sexual habits of Victorian women, is impressed by his sensitivity and that he can quote poetry from one of her favorites, Christina Rossetti; older married sister Alice (Bradley) finds him alluring compared to her boring husband Martin (Dempsey); Martin is impressed with Adam’s classic vintage Jaguar.
Adam charms all three sisters with different approaches and takes all to bed. When David seeks help in getting his girlfriend Karen to bed, Adam obliges. But the plan to get David in bed with Karen backfires, as Adam winds up taking her to bed. But by morning Karen is in such a joyous state that David also gets a chance.
For all the main characters there’s a voice-over used to spell out their thoughts and also captions of their thoughts are at times flashed onscreen. Scenes are also repeated so we get reactions from different individuals. For instance, at Lucy’s pub, while onstage, she asks Adam to marry her. When he accepts: Peg is happy, Laura is devastated, and Alice is surprised.
The film’s main purpose seems to be in showing what a likable rake Adam is — that he is willing to meet the needs of whomever he’s with. He proves that having secrets in a relationship can add spice and make it even more lasting. This is contrasted with Adam being shown by the film’s end as a pathological liar and an uncaring sexist. The film’s image of him left me confused about what I was supposed to think of him. But my gut reaction is, I had a belly full of this guy long before the film ended. It was like I was being asked to overlook Adam’s failings and be won over by his obviously trite charms. I wasn’t and therefore didn’t care for Adam, or the film, or did I particularly care for any of the sisters. The only thing I liked was the Jaguar, and I didn’t care how Adam got it or what story he told about how he got it. There’s a running gag throughout, telling how Adam tells different versions of how he obtained the Jaguar to whomever he’s with. That was supposed to be funny and show that he might have some problems with telling the truth, which this film equates with being cute.
REVIEWED ON 7/16/2001 GRADE: C- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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