Film review: Kate & Leopold (2001), directed by James Mangold
The premise of romantic comedy Kate & Leopold is that a man finds a crack in the time-space continuum over the East River in New York City. He jumps through it, ends up in 1876 and when he returns to modern day, he happens to accidentally bring a duke back with him. The duke finds himself bewildered in modern day NYC but not enough to not fall in love with a beautiful woman. It’s a clash between different time and different morals.
And it has Hugh Jackman in a cravat.
It’s a sweet movie, no two ways about it. A 19th century gentleman falling in love with a 21st century market researcher – how can it not be? Thought Leopold was a bit too quick in grasping modern day life at times, which threatened credibility a bit. Like getting into bed with Kate – I don’t care that he was fully dressed and only held his arm around her – a gentleman wouldn’t have done that. Not when he’s so adamant about getting up from the table every time a lady gets up. Didn’t quite make sense, no matter how cute it was.
Meg Ryan does romcoms quite well, she’s done a few in her time. Slightly typecast as the Spunky Kid, perhaps, but hey, if you’re good at it, go with it. Hugh Jackman was interesting, as it’s really not the sort of role I was expecting to see him in, but a handsome man in period clothing (cravat, yay!) is never to be frowned upon. Especially not when Leopold was such a darling as well.
The time-hole was discovered by Kate’s ex, Stuart (Liev Schreiber – also not really the sort of role I would expect to see him in), who live in the apartment above hers. The thing that bothered me was that the dog had an electronic shock collar (why the hell did Kate have the remote anyway?!) – not cricket. Stuart spent most of the time out of the picture, as he was in hospital. The deleted scenes had bits where he woke up in the elevator shaft so we could see that he wasn’t dead. It was quite shocking that in a lighthearted, fluffy romcom, someone was killed off. He wasn’t, but we didn’t know that. Should’ve seen it coming, I suppose, just because you really can’t have someone die in that way in that sort of film!
Kate’s actor brother (Breckin Meyer) was cute in his trying to be less of a clown and more of a gentleman. I thought his name was familiar, and looking him up, it really was the Robot Chicken guy. Saw bits of the extras on one of their Star Wars specials DVDs and he caught my eye. So he can obviously do more than stop motion boys-will-be-boys childishness. Don’t get me wrong, Robot Chicken is quite often hilarious, but you know …
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about where Britain went wrong as a society. How on earth did we/they manage to go from Mr. Darcy to chavtastic? Or for that matter, how come the chaste restraint of Jane Eyre in mid-1800s had become a lot more frivolous and open (judging from reading DH Lawrence) by a couple of decades after the turn of the century? And from that to modern day, where nothing seems to be sacred? What the hell happened? This film doesn’t really offer any clues, but it’s not meant to either. And I think that’s a whole separate post altogether.
If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for the ultimate romance saga of finding that Mr. Right is from another century AND still attainable, and won’t throw up over the whole anti-feministic “driven career woman willing to give up everything in order to be with the man she loves” message, then yes, Kate & Leopold is definitely a good movie. If you have issues with it, then it’s an okay movie. Still leaves you with that nice, warm feeling so it definitely works as a nice little fantasy romance. Just don’t expect miracles.
4 out of 5 cravats.