(Air Date: Week Of 5/97)
I was in a hopeless muddle for the first 20-25m. of "'Til There Was You." We see the two leads at three different ages, seven, twelve and thirtysomething. The thing is, they don't meet till the end of the movie, so without a frame of reference, it's like, "Whoa, rewind, who the heck ARE all these people?" I was just about to go home and watch a Discovery Channel documentary on the making of the Golden Gate Bridge when the story settled in on the contrasting lives of Gwen Mesa (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and architect Nick Dawkan (Dylan McDermott).
Gwen is a ghost writer for the forthcoming autobiography of a burned-out child star entitled "NO, I'M NOT DEAD!" by Francesca Lanfield. Francesca is played by former child star Sarah Jessica Parker, now 32, and the new bride of Matthew Broderick in real life. Parker's performance is actually the most biting one in the entire film. She goes through the picture with a blemish on her chin that I've never seen in any of her other movies, brave girl. Her hair styles and make-up are always a bit wrong for her age and skin, but she knows how to swing back into her people-pleasing mode like a wind-up fembot doll. She writes lousy poetry and she's never recovered from the stunning realisation that the series co-stars she regarded as her surrogate family in "One Big Happy Family" were just professional actors earning a network paycheck. She's since learned the one hard lesson guaranteed to make her miserable for the rest of her lifer "Leave them before they leave you."
It's a rich, meaty role and Parker makes the most of it, even though the movie is about Gwen and Nick, remember them? It's a long story, but it has to do with the historic La Fortuna apartment complex where Gwen lives and Nick's firm wanting to demolish it to make way for something else and Gwen's fight to save La Fortuna and this architectural nightmare of a hot spot where Owen crashes into everything in sight and the fact that Nick is going with Francesca for awhile and Gwen winds up with Jonny Armbruster who looks just like JFK, Jr., but he doesn't vote to save the La Fortuna, so they break up and, well, Gwen and Nick meet cute and that's it except I've left out dozens of sudsy sub-plots. THEY feature the former cast members of dozens of failed television series. The acting by the two leads is good, and the work of Sarah Jessica Parker and veteran actresses Nina Foch and Alice Drummond outclasses what goes on in the rest of the film. Each of them needs her own movie! Would it surprise you if I told you that "'Til There Was You" is the brainchild of writer Winnie Holzman and director Scott Winant, both of whom brought you those whacky whining characters on "thirtysomething", "My So-Called Life" and "Relativity?"
Copyright 1997 Monica Sullivan
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