By Alexandria Harris
Normally romantic movies are not my thing, but the allure of seeing Christopher Reeve NOT play Superman was too much. Plus I’m a sucker for time travel. And Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. So Superman plus Dr. Quinn and time travel equal a good time.
Premise: A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to find the actress whose portrait hangs in a hotel
This movie was a mash-up of The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Lake house (especially because of the Christopher Plummer link), and a dash of The Phantom of the Opera.
“Evening, Ms. McKenna. You don’t know me, but you will.”
Richard Collier is a budding college playwright, and has just finished debuting a successful play. While he’s basking in the glow of his success, an elderly woman moves through the crowd to him, pushes a pocket watch into his hand and whispers “Come back to me.”
Awkward. Especially because he has no idea who she is and everyone becomes silent to watch the awkwardness.
Even more awkward is having to watch the old woman go to the Grand Hotel, shut herself in her room, and cradle the playbill to her chest in a rocking chair because we immediately flash forward eight years.
Richard has now written many plays, but has apparently hit a rut because he decides to go on a vacation after breaking up with his girlfriend and hasn’t finished his newest play.
And of course, he ends up staying at the Grand Hotel. The bell hop Arthur provides a nice example of overly helpful customer service and has a weird case a deja vu where he thinks he might have met Richard before.
Richard settles in and wants to eat something, but apparently he arrives forty minutes before the dining hall opens. As he tries to kill time, he notices something called a Hall of History (which I now wish all hotels had) and goes through it.
After browsing a few things, he’s mesmerized by an unidentified portrait of a gorgeous woman. He tracks down Arthur, the eager to please bellhop, who tells him all about the woman, Elise McKenna.
Then the audience witnesses his not-so-slow descent into obsession when he goes back to mope at the portrait, then ogles the pocket watch in the middle of the night, stares at the portrait more, tosses and turns in bed, then take a wild guess at what he stares at again.
Next (I would consider this modern Facebook stalking but she’s dead so I guess she can’t care about it) he goes to the library to dig deeper into her life because he found out from Arthur that Elise was a famous actress. After more digging into her later years, he comes across a picture from the end of her life. It’s the same woman who gave him the pocket watch.
*gasp* Dun-dun-DUN! Sorry wrong movie genre.
But now we take obsession and stalking up one more notch and he visits the woman who wrote the book about Elise’s last years and who was also with her the night she died, eight years ago, on the opening night of his play.
She has a sharp reaction to seeing the pocket watch and by this point, I really just wanted to know how far we were going to go down the rabbit hole. The more Richard learns about Elise and her life, the more I wanted Jane Seymour to just come out in all her glory.
Richard finds a book about time travel that his philosophy teacher wrote that Elise apparently read non stop. A music box Elise had made plays the soul wrenching musical score evident throughout the movie that is Richard’s “favorite music in the whole world.”
This drives Richard back to his old philosophy teacher, who suggests self-hypnosis and mind suggestion via some scientific yada, yada, yada as a way of time travel.
The most lovely part of this is that during this conversation, you literally see Christopher Reeve snap, disregarding the dangers and entranced by the whole possibility. And afterward you get to see glaring evidence of just HOW hard he snapped.
I have to say, watching the scenes of Reeve trying to hypnotize himself were worth seeing the movie alone. It was like watching Superman fight against the effects of kryptonite. He was truly a fish out of water in a different time, which made for some very funny material.
Also, the manager-actress relationship could have been a prequel to the Christine-Phantom relationship from Phantom of the Opera. Reeve makes a great Raul and Plummer has the stern, “I’ll kill you in your sleep” intimidating demeanor down pat.
You’ve got cryptic dialogue, creepy stalker dialogue, laugh out loud moments, the danger element, a sense of mystery, and the taste of an epic period romance with some modern sprinkled in. All of this made it a little more than your run of the mill romance. And the time travel helped.
Jane Seymour and Reeve had fabulous chemistry, there was a wonderful sense of spontaneity. I really enjoyed that the movie outlined the pressures of being an actress, of having the responsibility of bringing someone’s world to life.
I mean there was an Inception-like moment/inconsistency that I felt was Christopher Nolan worthy and usually happens with many movies trying to tackle time travel. Who had the pocket watch first?
I have to give this movie a 6/10. I wasn’t too fond of the ending because the movie gradually grew unconvincing. Furthermore, it took them about an hour to show Jane Seymour in action. Who does that?
It also didn’t really get into Richard being a playwright-he just happened to be a playwright who was in love. So basically the moving was less about writing and writing processes than I thought it would be. I thought I was really going to like it, but it made for an adequate love story, plot-wise. The good news–the talent and the soundtrack were fabulous.
Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.