For those of you who might still be trying to figure out Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” then this might be a more user friendly film for you. It is part romance, part thriller, part action, and part fantasy. In a fairly basic, yet not too basic, way it tries to tackle the subjects of fate and destiny. Do we control our destiny? Or are there other forces that control that? Are we manipulated? Are our futures predestined? These are things that most people have thought about at one time or another and this film looks at it from a non-religious point of view as possible.
The backbone of the story is the love or connection between two people. Two people in which fate does everything to keep them apart. Set against that is the whole mystical idea that there are entities controlling our lives and that free will is not a reality. Once I caught on to the whole higher power, angels and the “plan” running through the film I got a little trepidatious. Religion in film does not work often.
From the time that he was 10-years-old and his father brought him to Washington, D.C. to watch the U.S. Senate in action, David Norris (Matt Damon – The Bourne Identity, Good Will Hunting) had known that he wanted to be a politician. After the deaths within a month of each other of his mother and brother and then later of his father it became even more important to him.
Now that he is in his 30s and a Congressman, David is on the brink of becoming the U.S. Senator for the state of New York, his home state. His lead over his much older opponent disappears almost overnight after a picture of him mooning his college pals is published in the New York Post. People now see him as young (which he is) and irresponsible (which he isn’t). While in the men’s bathroom at the Waldorf Astoria hotel practicing his concession speech a beautiful young woman stumbles out of one of the stalls. She is hiding from security as she has crashed a wedding.
In the five minutes they are together a real connection is made and David is head over heels. Still amped up over his time with this mystery woman, David dumps the speech that was written for him and does an off-the-cuff speech that catches everyone’s attention. Overnight he has become the favourite for the next election.
As fate would have it David gets on the bus the next day to go to his job and lo and behold she is there – the mystery woman. He sits beside her and they strike up a conversation. She is Elise (Emily Blunt – The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria) and is a dancer. David takes her number and promises to call her.
The call never comes. But, he does have a good reason. David has been kind of abducted by men looking like they are straight out of “Mad Men”. Actually John Slattery is on “Mad Men”. He walks into his office that morning and sees a bunch of men doing weird things to his co-workers. David tries to flee but he is caught. Slattery is Mr. Richardson, a “man” who tells David that he is not in control of his own life, that they are and that he cannot be with Elise as it is not in the plan for him. He must stop seeing her and cannot under any circumstance tell anyone ever about them. If he insists on trying to see Elise they will stop him and if he tells anyone about them then they will adjust him – meaning they will erase his entire memory and everyone around him will believe him to have gone mad.
Love and fate and the debate over these two subjects take up the rest of the picture. Should David and Elise take a chance on love despite the fact that it might jeopardize their careers and even their lives? And the lives of others. I decided part of the way through that I would ignore the Fates aspect of the film and focus on the love story. It was the best decision to be made for the sake of the film and my enjoyment of it. The whole spiritual and Fates side is a little tricky. You can get too caught up in it and the realism of it. Is it offensive? Is it realistic? Could it be true? Too much stuff running around your head and you are pulled out of the movie. Don’t spend time thinking that the books that the men in fedoras carry around look like something out of Harry Potter. The only logic that matters with a film like this is that of director George Nolfi (first film) and the journey he is bringing the viewer on. Go willingly and with an open mind and heart.
However, the love part is instantaneously relatable and lovely. The chemistry between the two is great. Everyman Matt Damon is charming and Emily Blunt is beguiling. The idea of fighting against all odds for a chance at a life with your soulmate is an attractive one. What could be more romantic? Revel in this part of the film and don’t concern yourself too much with the rest.
In regards to the technical aspects of the film it uses great sets and the cinematography is wonderful to look at. Great production values and art direction. You’ll find yourself often gawking at the scenery.
-Deleted and Extended Scenes
-The Labyrinth of Doors: Interactive Map of New York
-Leaping Through New York
-Destined to Be
-Feature Commentary with Writer/Directer George Nolfi