Review Fridays: Kate & Leopold

I am about fifteen years late in watching Kate & Leopold, so please excuse me, but it seems appropriate for a movie about time travel.

I am always searching for a good costume romantic comedy, but when I found this movie, I wasn’t entirely sure if the time travel plot would ruin it. Fortunately, I decided to watch anyway. Leopold is feeling stuck in his life in nineteenth century New York. He is a Duke, but his family is no longer wealthy, so his uncle is trying to persuade him to marry a rich heiress. He spots a man, Stuart, who seems to be following him and chases after him to find out why. When Stuart jumps off of the still-being-constructed Brooklyn Bridge, Leopold tries to save him. Instead, they both fall through a time portal. Or something. The science behind it all does not matter.

Back in the present day, Kate is a successful market researcher, but unsuccessful in love. She enters the movie trying to get her phone back from her ex-boyfriend and upstairs neighbor, Stuart. In his apartment, she finds a man straight out of the nineteenth century, literally. Leopold is devastatingly handsome and dashing, a man who follows rules of conduct out of another age. At first, she doesn’t like him and doesn’t buy his act, but she slowly realizes that she misses the sort of chivalry he offers.

Let us not kid ourselves. Hugh Jackman as Leopold carries this movie. There is not much of substance in the time travel aspects of the plot. If historical inaccuracies bother you, this is not the movie for you. It simply does not make any sense, so if you have any hope of enjoying this movie, you need to step back and ignore the plot holes and watch Hugh Jackman. He is lovely and dashing and manages to make his role believable. Meg Ryan stars as Kate, and if you liked her in other movies, you will probably like this role as well.

What I found most interesting is the battle between practicality and romantic, idealistic notions. Before Leopold jumps through time, he is a dreamer, an inventor, and he scoffs at his uncle’s suggestion of marrying money. Kate has spent her life fighting to be successful and priding herself on her independence and practicality. She supports herself financially by finding the best methods of selling bad products. Although she has been trying to convince herself that duty matters more than her heart, meeting Leopold makes her reexamine her life.

This sort of message tends to work better in theory than in practice, but it’s nice to be reminded to reexamine my priorities every so often. I sometimes like movies and books for escapism, when I am feeling disenchanted with the world, and in another mood, I might not have enjoyed this movie as much. It has potential, however, as a reminder that being a dreamer is not such a bad thing after all.

Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman

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My God, that voice. “The air is full of spices.”

I was a preteen when I first began reading Jane Austen, and naturally I went for the adaptations soon after. I remember getting a VHS (which makes me practically a dinosaur) of the elegant 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. When I first read the book, I hated Colonel Brandon, and I thought it a grim fate indeed that Marianne should marry him at the end. Colonel Brandon in his flannel waistcoat was no hero for a young girl, and I rejected him heartily.

And then there was Alan Rickman.

Colonel Brandon: What can I do?
Elinor Dashwood: Colonel, you have done so much already…
Colonel Brandon: Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad.

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

From the moment I watched that adaptation, I thought that perhaps Marianne and Colonel Brandon had more in common than I assumed. He was a romantic hero with a deep voice and commanding aspect, and I was subconsciously drawn to him. He managed to make me care for a character who otherwise seemed boring, dull, doomed to flannel waistcoats. Each time I saw him in a movie, he impressed me, and that voice. What a gift of a voice to bring to the world.

I am not much of a crier, but I have to admit that I shed tears when I heard today that Alan Rickman died at the age of 69. I had not read anywhere that he was ill, so it was a shock for me to lose my first Colonel Brandon. He was a magnificent actor and shall be missed by scores of fans.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman.