Is there a possibility that a noble, who lived in the late nineteenth century, and a career woman cross their paths? And that the cinematic Wolverine Do you meet the then sweetheart of America? Thanks to the infinite ways of the Seventh Art everything is obviously possible and here in 2001 this eventuality occurs in a romantic comedy that at the time had a fair response from the public, always ready to dream in front of apparently unthinkable stories but made real thanks to magic of the big screen.
Many of you will have already understood the film in question, that is Kate & Leopold who now twenty years ago reunited for the first and only time Hugh Jackman, fresh from the success of the X-Men, and Meg Ryan, who has always been a beloved face by the public across the Alps. But what does this sometimes naive and ramshackle product have to catch our attention so much? Let’s find out together.
A walk in time
The premise is certainly not the most original and indeed it oversimplifies the laws and dynamics behind the possibility of time travel. Precisely this commodification of scientific rules prevents the plot from being entirely credible and some passages are partially forced, partly removing the likelihood of the entire narrative construct.
It is certainly not here, behind technical details that are difficult for most, that we must appreciate the sweetness and irony of an operation that he tries to play his comic cards on several gags which have to do with Leopold’s arrival in a completely new reality for him. If its acclimatization within a few days is too rapid, the first moments of disorientation leave the field open to hilarious laughter, which will then be repeated alternately during the course of the vision.
The story begins in 1886, the day of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. Leopold, the third Duke of Albany close to an unwanted marriage, is witnessing the ceremony when he notices a strange individual who appears to be stalking him. Then when he finds him in his house on the evening of the ball in which the future bride will be announced, he decides to follow him to understand who he is and during the chase falls with him into the water from a considerable height.
Instead of dying, he awakens in the stalker’s room nowadays, in a world that is completely new to him. Who involved him in that absurd time travel is the eccentric Stuart, victim shortly after of an elevator accident that will keep him in hospital for several days, but Leopold has only one week to be able to return to his time. Against all odds, Kate, the injured’s girlfriend, will take care of him, despite the fact that she doesn’t believe his story at all.
A relaxing break
Mangold, also author of the screenplay and a veteran of the success of two great cults such as Cop Land (1997) and Interrupted girls (1999), opts here for much lighter tones and takes a break from the dramatic veins that had characterized his previous works.
The timing for the comedy is still imperfect but he manages to bring out inspired sorties, flames that soon rekindle the interest that was in danger of waning. In particular, the most boring and obvious sequences are those that concern the attempts of approach by Kate’s boss, who promises her various promotions with a very specific purpose.
Fortunately Kate & Leopold recovers when she unleashes panache and inventiveness, as in the scene on horseback that briefly refers to a swashbuckling cinema, the initial chase of a wild dog and, above all, the management of the so-called “third wheel”.
Although she appears for a shorter time than her colleagues, the performance of Liev Schreiber as the eccentric Stuart is one to be framed, so much so that an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor would not have been so unfair.
The performance of Breckin Meyer in the role of brother, aspiring actor, of Kate, however, is less incisive, too shouted to be suitable for the quiet and placid atmospheres that permeate everything.
A mix that works
Fun and romance in equal measure and, if you exclude some empty passages, the whole works in a fairly balanced way. Observe the dress changes of Jackman, very elegant in the costume robes that fit him perfectly as if he were a real dandy of the times, and the smiles of an always lovable Meg Ryan make the almost two hours of viewing a pleasant divertissement, not to be taken too seriously but to be enjoyed for what it is, with its merits and its obvious defects.
In particular, many of the scenes that see the female protagonist alone appear to be built at the table, but it is difficult to remain impassive in front of that epilogue that teaches us how love is truly capable of overcoming any obstacle and difficulties, even the thresholds of time itself.