WHAT HAPPENS LATER
(director/writer: Meg Ryan; screenwriters: Kirk Lynn, Steve Deitz, based on the Deitz play “Shooting Stars”; cinematographer: Bartosz Nalazek; editor: Jason Gourson; music: David Boman; cast: Meg Ryan (Willa Davis), David Duchovny (Bill), Hal Liggett (airport voiceover); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams, Laura D. Smith, Kristin Mann; Bleecker Street; 2023)
“So-so two-hander airport rom-com.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The actress Meg Ryan (“Ithaca”) who starred in When Harry Met Sally, dedicates her new film to that film’s filmmaker/writer Norah Ephron. After making no films the last 8 years, Meg in her comeback directs her second film–this chatty and quirky so-so two-hander airport rom-com, set entirely in an airport terminal on the Leap Year day of a snowstorm. Meg co-writes it with Kirk Lynn and Steve Deitz. It’s based on the Deitz play “Shooting Stars.”
The free-spirited struggling career woman, Willa Davis (Meg Ryan) and, the successful in the business world, married man with a daughter, Bill Davis (David Duchovny), were never married even though they have the same last names. But they were former lovers in college and have been apart for over twenty years. This is the first time they have run into each other.
Bill is at the Boston airport, stranded during the storm, while going on a business trip. The former lovers reconnect, while killing time during the delay by telling each other what they’ve been up to all these years. They are still attracted to each other, but their meeting is testy.
The film tries to expand the tangible plot with a few scenes of magic realism, like dancers doing a cute number in the terminal. The magic realism scenes didn’t work for me because they seemed absurd, but might for other viewers who felt the need for the meeting to be magical.
There’s one poignant moment when the former couple talk plainly about all the pain they’ve gone through, and that scene registers as the truest one in the film.
The uneasy duo try to figure out how they will spend the night together waiting out the biggest snow storm in years and realize when they part they probably will never meet again.
Too bad it fizzled out by the end, as both characters are very likeable and look good together. But like the grounded planes, the promising film never took off.
REVIEWED ON 1/7/2024 GRADE: C+