Tuesday 19 December 2017

Movie Review: Kate And Leopold (2001)

A fantasy romance, Kate And Leopold trades on the appeal of stars Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman, but is an otherwise frivolous and easily forgettable exercise.

New York City, 1876. The Duke of Albany Leopold Mountbatten (Jackman) has little patience for social niceties and is dabbling with an invention that looks like a scale model of an elevator. At an upper crust party Leopold spots and chases weird intruder Stuart Besser (Liev Schreiber), who is from the future. Stuart leads Leopold to a time portal accessed by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River.

They land in New York of 2001, where Stuart has just broken up with his downstairs neighbour Kate McKay (Ryan). When Stuart is waylaid after an elevator shaft mishap, Kate and Leopold start spending time together. She is initially sceptical of his story but gradually a romance blossoms. Kate is a marketing executive chasing a promotion and being sexually harassed by her boss J.J. (Bradley Whitford). Leopold gets involved in filming her latest advertisement, and his chivalrous and uncompromising integrity prove attractive as he defends Kate's honour at every turn.

Directed and co-written by James Mangold, Kate And Leopold is an old school and utterly predictable romance. With just shadings of humour and lacking any cutting edge, the film rides on lush production values and a fantasy romance-across-time premise, and even then soft pedals the concept. Leopold is quick to adjust to his new surroundings, and before long the film defaults to a New York City travelogue through the eyes of any other visitor.

At over two hours the film is unnecessarily long and the padding is obvious. Once Leopold makes the jump to the present Mangold has to kill 90 minutes of running time to get to his rather tame climax, and the paucity of material is painfully obvious. The film surrenders to subplots and distractions, including a long-winded chase of a purse snatcher through central park and Kate's slow-motion harassment by her lecherous boss, hiding in a suit and wielding his power to attempt sexual conquest.

It's all in the name of creating opportunities for Leopold to ride to the rescue on a white horse, literally in the case of the purse snatcher, and forcing Kate to consider giving up her modern life and career to be with her knight in shining armour. In better hands this would have been an interesting dilemma to debate, but in this world of fantasy romance, the push and pull between women's empowerment and the perceived chivalry of four generations past is treated with utmost simplicity.

Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman do what is asked, looking disarmingly great for the cameras and representing all-good characters just waiting for the right love to come along. Kate And Leopold is a sanguine reverie, and disappears as quickly as a lightweight dream.

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1 comment:

  1. I watched this today. I was bored senseless and there was no chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Meg Ryan.


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