‘Til There Was You (1997)
“It took them twenty years to fall in love at first sight.”
Director: Scott Winant
Cast: Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dylan McDermott, John Plumpis
Synopsis: Two strangers, whose paths are always crossing, finally meet when fate steps in.
The fact that ‘Til There Was You conspires to keep its romantic leads apart for most of its running time clearly shows where debut director Scott Winant and debut writer Winnie Holzman’s influences lie. However, where Sleepless in Seattle was a polished piece of Hollywood jewellery which at least had us wanting its principal characters to finally meet, the rudderless route ‘Til There Was You follows to take us to the conclusion we all know is inevitable leaves us simply wishing they’d just hurry up and get on with it.
Jeanne Tripplehorn plays Gwen Moss, a single thirty-something writer who fears life is passing her by and can’t understand why she just can’t seem to meet the right man. Dylan McDermott is Nick, her Mr. Right in waiting, a charismatic architect who, unaware of Gwen’s existence, embarks on a doomed-from-the-start affair with highly-strung but sympathetic former child TV star Francesca Lanfield (Sarah Jessica Parker), for whom Gwen is ghost-writing an autobiography. The story’s two strands follow separate, occasionally converging paths. As Nick and Francesca’s relationship, which is built primarily on their sexual compatibility, soars before eventually faltering, Gwen stumbles from one disastrous relationship to another, unaware that her soul mate is within touching distance.
‘Til there Was You is an amiable enough movie, but its ham-fisted attempts to conjure up some kind of magical meditation upon the romantic inevitability of fate preclude any possibility of achieving that warm, fuzzy feeling for which it’s so obviously reaching. Occasional attempts at humour, based mostly around a booby-trapped ’avant-garde’ restaurant that would have our friends at Lawyers4U salivating with anticipation, mostly fall flat, and a sub-plot revolving around Gwen’s attempts to prevent the demolition of her historic apartment block – which Francesca owns and for which, unknown to Gwen, Nick is designing the replacement building – simply uses up time while adding nothing to the storyline. It’s there for atmosphere, presumably, and to provide Holzman with a vehicle to demonstrate how both Nick and Gwen’s attitudes begin to converge when Nick has second thoughts about tearing the old building down. The problem is, it’s a pretty boring sub-plot which extends an already over-long running time. Trimming this part of the film and jettisoning one or two extraneous characters – Jennifer Aniston‘s, for example – might have gone some way towards making ’Til There Was You more enjoyable and stopped it from dragging so badly, but as it stands it’s too slow and drawn out to make it worth anyone‘s while.
(Reviewed 6th July 2012)