Serendipity (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

There’s always been something about “Serendipity” that’s drawn me in. I have no idea what it is, but my head spun when I realized that this movie is now a decade old. I hate to sound clichéd, but my God – where does the time go? I can vividly remember going to the theater to see this and if I looked hard enough, I could probably find my movie ticket (yes, I’m weird like that in that I keep old movie tickets). The movie was released about a month after the September 11 attacks when the world needed a bit of levity and thankfully John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale provided it via this film. More to the point, I’ve always liked films that relied on chance. That little “what if…” factor that makes the movie seem less formulaic and more like, well, real life. “Serendipity” doesn’t exactly spin an entirely new tale, but the way it tells it works. Or at least it did for me.

Cusack plays Jonathan, a hopeless romantic who happens to bump into Sara (Kate Beckinsale) as they’re both after the same pair of cashmere gloves (the last pair). The two hit it off and even though they both have significant others, the two make somewhat of a pact. Sara will write her name and phone number in a book (“Love in the Time of Cholera” if it matters) and sell it to a used book store the next day. Jonathan writes his name and number on the back of a $5 and if it ever finds her again, she’ll call him. Sara does decide to tempt fate as the two pick different elevators in a hotel, should they pick the same floor – she’ll go out with him. Does it happen? Of course not. We flash forward several years to find that Sara has moved to San Francisco and Jonathan is now engaged to be married. But the possibility of a life with Kate is still lingering, he feels that he must try to track her down. With the help of his friend (Jeremy Piven), the two scour the city to no avail. Are Sara and Jonathan meant for one another or will both live out their lives wondering “what if…?”

The literal definition of “serendipity” means good fortune or good luck, so I think it’s safe to say that we know what will happen with our star-crossed lovers. But as is the case with most movies, it’s getting there that’s the fun part. There’s a definite chemistry between Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack and though others might prefer him in “Say Anything”, this one is for me. In the decade since this film’s release, Beckinsale has made more of a name for herself in science-fiction movies, namely the “Underworld” franchise. Still, she’s carved out a nice little career for herself. Cusack hasn’t been seen quite as much since this, and with a string of semi-successful films isn’t quite the star he was back in the 80’s or 90’s. Still, he remains one of my favorite performers. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, “Serendipity” is a nice little romantic comedy in the vein of “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Sliding Doors”. And for those that like the duo of Jeremy Piven and John Cusack, they’re right on the mark here.

Video: How does it look?

Admittedly it’s been a few years since I’ve seen this film, but I have been eagerly anticipating its release on Blu-ray. Lionsgate has provided a very decent 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer for this film. Despite it being a decade old, it doesn’t really appear that dated. Detail is improved over the previous standard DVD, colors tend to pop and black levels seem to be fine. There are some stock footage shots of New York that appear a bit on the grainy side and some of the darker shots (especially the first shot of the exterior of the book store) could use a little work. However as a big fan of the film, I’m willing to let the little things go. “Serendipity” looks better than ever, though a few minor errors do persist.

Audio: How does it sound?

The previous Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been replaced by a DTS HD Master Audio track that does have a few moments. Largely, romantic comedies aren’t made for dynamic sound and certainly “Serendipity” is no exception. There were a few instances in which the new mix got to flex its muscle though. Sara’s new boyfriend, Lars (John Corbett) plays a rather unique instrument that sounds very unusual through the speakers. Vocals are strong and consistent throughout and though the surrounds are used sparingly, they’re used effectively.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This is a Miramax title that was originally released by Disney on standard DVD but has now changed studios to Lionsgate (as have all the catalog Miramax titles). The supplements are the exact same as the ones that appeared on the standard DVD. We start off with an audio commentary by director Peter Chisholm. He offers plenty about the film, what it was like shooting in New York and so on. Not the best track that I’ve heard, but it’s entertaining enough to warrant a listen. There’s a “Behind the Scenes” look at the film courtesy of Starz as well as Chisholm’s production diary. We get the same storyboard to film comparisons as well as the film’s original theatrical trailer.

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