Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl because he cheats on her. Girl gets engagedto another guy. Boy is miserable. Boy meets magical garbage men who sendhim back in time for a second chance.
Wait, what was that last one?
Why, that's the plot of "Twice Upon a Yesterday,"a fantasy-romance import from England that gives its hard-to-like hero-- a pasty, blonde Scotsman and struggling actor named Victor (DouglasHenshall) -- the opportunity to relive a year of his life and learn a fewcharming but generic lessons about devotion, karma and fate.
After accosting his ex-girlfriend on the eve of her weddingwith one last, groveling, "I promise you I've changed!" plea,Victor gets falling-down drunk and is plucked from the gutter by garbagecollectors -- whose characters have been cribbed from "Don Quixote"-- and taken to a dump where one of them makes a metaphysical speech thatgoes something like "It's all here, the things you threw away..."
Victor spins around with his arms out a couple times andpoof, he's gone back in time to before he blew it with sweet, flirty Sylvia(Lena Headey, "Mrs. Dalloway"). Now paranoid about blowing itagain, he over-reforms, being Mr. Wonderful for a while but quickly becomingthe kind of too-nice guy that women for some reason find repellent.
And thus the tables are turned. Sylvia meets the same guyshe became engaged to the first time around, but this time its she whobegins an affair. Meanwhile, destiny puts Victor on a path toward Louise(Penelope Cruz), a honey-skinned Spanish bartender with sexy tousled hair,sexy librarian glasses and not a single sweater in her wardrobe that fitsover both her supple shoulders at the same time.
At the center of "Twice Upon a Yesterday" isan appealing idea -- who wouldn't like to take back a few stupid mistakes?But it suffers from a debilitating bouts of dime store symbolism and cliche-itisin the hands of its rookie director (Maria Ripoll) and screenwriter (RafaRusso).
For a while, the movie is warming and romantic. Headeyand Cruz ("OpenYour Eyes," "Hi-Lo Country")flesh out their girlfriend roles beautifully, making the audience (or atleast me) fall in love with each of them in turn. Henshall ("Angels& Insects") shrewdly lends his Victora certain sympathetic leaning in spite of his often unappealing persona.
But the director never establishes why we should get behindthis guy who doesn't seem to glean any lessons from his circumstances withoutbeing hit over the head with blunt metaphors.
In Theaters: Friday 25th June 1999
Distributed by: Trimark
Production compaines: HandMade Films, CLT, Escima
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 15
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Maria Ripoll
Starring: Lena Headey as Sylvia Weld, Douglas Henshall as Victor Bukowski, Penélope Cruz as Louise, Charlotte Coleman as Alison Hayes, Gustavo Salmerón as Rafael, Mark Strong as Dave Summers, Elizabeth McGovern as Diane
Also starring: Penelope Cruz
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