Only You (1994)
Only You (1994)

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.

Release Date: October 7th, 1994 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Norman Jewison Actors: Marisa Tomei, Bonnie Hunt, Robert Downey Jr., Joaquim de Almeida, Fisher Stevens, Billy Zane, Adam LeFevre, John Benjamin Hickey, Siobhan Fallon

 


 

“G

randma told me everyone has a soul mate.” When Larry and Faith are children, they play with a ouija board, hoping to decipher the name of their “other half.” Faith comes up with the name Damon Bradley. Whoever he is, he’s destined to be her true love, no matter where in the world he is. Shortly thereafter, at a carnival (like in “Big”), the 11-year-old girl visits a fortune teller to learn more about her future husband. “The truth is, you make your own destiny.”

Fourteen years later in Pittsburgh, Faith Corvatch (Marisa Tomei) is an adult, working as a school teacher. And she has just received a proposal from her boyfriend, a podiatrist named Dwayne (John Benjamin Hickey). Best friends Leslie (Siobhan Fallon) and Kate (Bonnie Hunt) – who is married to Faith’s brother Larry (Fisher Stevens) – congratulate the bubbly woman, convincing her not to wait any longer; those who wait wind up with nothing. But Kate’s marriage isn’t perfect; in fact, it’s full of disdain and discontent and regret. Likewise, Dwayne isn’t a perfect match, but he’s perfectly acceptable. That should be sufficient, right?

Faith is a hopeless romantic, her beliefs fueled by movies and songs, which is a stark contrast to Kate, whose dreams of a fairy-tale life are brought down by the doldrums of bothersome children and an irritating husband. But in the world of director Norman Jewison’s romantic comedies (featuring a few droll movie references), smartly balanced with more romance than comedy, excessively sentimental sweetness is bound to be bountiful. Sure enough, Faith fields a call for her fiancé – from an old buddy named Damon Bradley, who will be unable to attend the wedding, and who is about to depart to Venice over the Labor Day weekend. This kicks off a manic wild-goose chase, full of light slapstick, moderate hysterics, and considerable anxiety.

“There’s no such thing as a coincidence.” The premise is amusing, even if it’s comprised of tiny misadventures that have little grounding in reality (“We can’t afford this!”). What makes it work is Tomei, whose effervescence, high-hopes naïveté, and good-natured demeanor are a delight to watch. The mystery is also enticing – the kind full of red herrings and humorous clues and clumsy reconnaissance (“Oh! I can see his sleeve!”). And it’s also the type in which minor tragedies or betrayals can’t best the pull of romantic fantasy – they tend to be laughed off or redeemed entirely, rather than evaluated as unforgivable conflicts (the picturesque Italian sights are also key).

Despite the subject matter being about the pursuit of a man, one of the leading men – Robert Downey Jr. as Peter Wright – isn’t even introduced until nearly halfway through the film. It’s only ostensibly about men; the real focus is on the friendship between two women, as well as the ways in which their mutual support system helps them get past various emotional tribulations. Men are of service from time to time, but it’s the women’s story, regardless of the men, that takes precedence. And it’s up to them to recognize the frivolousness of destiny and the value of sensibility. In the end, the drama is poignant, the comedy scenarios are effective, and the romance airy (if totally farfetched); it’s not exceptional, but it’s thoroughly entertaining.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10