I really enjoyed this cute tale about a 5-year-old boy who was in the right place at the right time and ends up helping to deliver a baby girl. Twenty-five years later, he meets the baby girl, but now she is all grown up and he is smitten. Can he convince her that they are each other's destiny?
This story is quirky and both surprising in some ways and predictable in other ways.
Here are some nuts-and-bolts facts about the way it plays out:
1. There were a few scenes with bad language but it wasn't overwhelming.
2. There was a scene where there was a bar fight and Danny was cut with a broken beer bottle and another scene where there was a minor accident on a bicycle. And there is also a shooting, but not fatal. That's about it for violence.
3. There was one sex-scene but it was short and not explicit. I probably wouldn't mind watching it with my mother.
4. The actor who played the 5-year-old Danny was not a very good match for Jude Law as the adult Danny. This was not very distracting, and the boy was a good little actor and very cute.
5. There was a LOT of potential in this story that was not completely realized because of dead-ends and loose-ends that were left dangling. It was either less than perfect writing or it was less than perfect editing, but whatever it was, it made an excellent movie into a good movie.
Jude Law is engaging as Danny and Gretchen Mol (who played the adult Anna) was beautiful to look at but her character wasn't as well developed as I'd have liked. I absolutely loved Brenda Blethyn as Anna's eccentric mother. I think my favorite character was Nina - Anna's blind sister (played by Jennifer Tilly). The most surprising character turned out to be the patriarch of the Swan family - you'll just have to watch it to find out why.
The story centers on Danny's relationship with the crazy, eccentric, and slightly dysfunctional Swan family. Anna's blind sister, Nina, is one of the most interesting and well-developed characters in the whole movie, and her journey from frightened, handicapped, dependent blind girl to a confident, brave and wise woman really gave me chills. I loved this part of the movie, I loved the tender love story that Nina never thought she'd ever experience, and I loved Jennifer Tilly's portrayal of Nina. The transformation of the relationship between Anna and Nina was beautiful and there was a scene between Nina and Anna near the end of the movie that was very touching..
Although I really enjoyed the film, there are some flaws that left me a little unsatisfied. Plot details were thrown in randomly and without any explanation or satisfying reason. For instance, for a large portion of the story, Anna is inexplicably angry with Danny. There is nothing in the plot that explains her extreme dislike for him, and I kept getting the feeling that some scenes must have been cut from the movie. It just seems like a forced plot detail that doesn't ring true.
SPOILERS AHEAD - PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Also, this story has three deaths, and none of them are explained.
The first one was Danny's mother who died about a year before the story begins. They make a point of explaining that a 4-year-old Danny was the person that found her body (meaning that her death was sudden and not a result of a long illness like cancer). I had a vague impression that it might have been suicide, but the attitude of the characters didn't communicate that kind of trauma. So, she might have had a stroke, sudden heart attack, or aneurysm, but that would be unlikely for a healthy 30-ish woman to suddenly drop dead without warning. It wasn't a huge problem but it was a little distraction. Danny's mother was never actually in the movie, but she was remembered in the first scenes. I thought that since they weren't going to follow up on the angle that Danny had found her body, then it would have been better to this part out altogether. It would have been enough to know that Danny and his father had lost their mother/wife.
The second death was Danny's father - a man who appeared in the first few scenes and then was never in the movie again. Twenty-five years later, a grown-up Danny comes back to town and casually mentions that his Dad had passed away. Again, no information on how this happened and again, this would be unusual since Dad would have only been around 55 or 60 when he died. Pretty young to die and no explanation about how or why it happened and I thought the movie would have been less flabby if the whole "my dad passes away last year" had been left out. It served no purpose in the movie that I could tell.
The third death is one of the main characters and her mysterious "illness" was a major plot twist. I can understand glossing over the deaths of two relatively minor characters, but focus so much of the story around the illness of a major character without ever telling what was causing the illness was really strange. Again, it seemed like some scenes were cut from the final movie, leaving an obvious hole.
The biggest flaw was the incomprehensible Anna, who seemed bound and determined to do the exact opposite of what would make her happy. There were some lame attempts to explain her self-destructive behavior, but it fell flat and didn't seem believable to me. You would think that the female lead would have been written with better character development. Jude Law had a tall order to play opposite a female lead character that was little more than a beautiful paper doll! This was no fault of Gretchen Mol, but there was very little she could do to make Anna believable. The only thing that saved this situation was that Danny was a well-written character and Jude Law played him with passion and sensitivity. I found that I could get past the issues with Anna pretty easily because Danny made up for whatever Anna was lacking.
SPOILERS ARE OVER NOW. IT IS SAFE TO READ ON TO THE CONCLUSION.
Anyway, this was very, very watchable, in spite of the flaws. I enjoyed every minute of it and even watched it again, which is rare for me. As a matter of fact, it is actually better the second time around because it has some subtle intricacies and several instances of foreshadowing that aren't obvious on the first viewing. I recommend it to all hopeless romantics.