Thursday, July 12, 2012

HAPPY ACCIDENTS: A True Sci-Fi Romance Gem

My new favorite science fiction romance film is HAPPY ACCIDENTS (2000). OMG THIS FILM IS SO AWESOME!!!

Written and directed by Brad Anderson (of SESSION 9 fame—at least, I hope he’s famous for that haunting, suspenseful film!), HAPPY ACCIDENTS stars Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio as Ruby and Sam, a couple swept away in a unique, mind-bending romance. The setting is contemporary and the plot is full of twists—not the least of which is one in the time travel mode.

Here’s the setup:

Lovelorn Manhattanite and recovering co-dependent Ruby Weaver (Marisa Tomei) has just about given up on finding the right man when she bumps into Sam Deed (Vincent D'Onofrio), a sweet newcomer from Dubuque, Iowa. They quickly fall for each other and almost as fast their relationship takes a mysterious u-turn into the Twilight Zone. Just as Ruby is beginning to relish her first ever "healthy relationship" Sam begins muttering about being a time traveler from the year 2470...

With the council of her therapist (Holland Taylor) and her friend Gretchen (Nadia Dajani) Ruby struggles to decide if Sam and she have a future together. Is he truly Mr. Right or simply a charming lunatic with an overactive imagination? But another of Sam's preposterous revelations sets the clock ticking and soon there is no time to spare. Ruby and Sam are forced to confront their true feelings for each other. Before it's too late.
And here's the trailer:

Brad Anderson presents commentary on how this film evolved at his official site:

Happy Accidents began as a dark, sci-fi experiment…

…And so “Happy Accidents” evolved into a relationship movie. A relationship is, after all, the ultimate crucible for examining the dramatic situation - and pulling out the comedy. We all smile knowingly when relationships in movies reflect our own common experiences (he likes the window open, she likes it closed). But it’s the differences that we find so compelling (he’s a time traveller, she isn’t). The exciting thing about Happy Accidents was it gave me a chance to really focus on an unusual relationship, it’s weird unpredictability, and the often seemingly self destructive things that bring two people closer together.

I went into HAPPY ACCIDENTS knowing practically nothing about it. I vaguely recalled its release, but that was about it. I re-discovered this film quite by accident—ha!—in an Entertainment Weekly article (July 6, 2012) that lists “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen.” Upon discovering a possible SFR, I leaped into my Amazon Prime account to see if HAPPY ACCIDENTS was available. And there it was, totally for free! Praise Copernicus!

At first, I wasn’t sure the story would qualify as a bona fide science fiction romance (these things are usually too much to hope for). I actually steeled myself for a tragic, or at most, a bittersweet ending. In fact, about half way through the film, the story was working hard to convince me that the SFR angle was going to be dropped in favor of another genre altogether. And it worked. I couldn’t predict where HAPPY ACCIDENTS was going at all. I was simultaneously intrigued and fearful.

That twisty journey made the ultimate payoff incredibly exciting, not to mention rewarding. One plot point in particular left me jumping for joy—like if you gave Tom Cruise speed and put him alone in a room with a couch!

I won’t say anything more except to confirm that HAPPY ACCIDENTS fully embraces its science fiction romance identity. Marry me, Brad Anderson!!

Brad Anderson plans his next sci-fi romance film

HAPPY ACCIDENTS would make a superlative recommendation if you have the opportunity to introduce someone to science fiction romance via a humorous, heartwarming—and at times heartbreaking—film. The dialogue is great, the characters pop, and the skiffy elements are intelligent, yet accessible. What I especially adored was the exploration of loving someone who might be—well, I better not say because I’d hate to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it.

All in all, HAPPY ACCIDENTS is a delightfully entertaining film. It’s also another example of sci-fi romance’s far-reaching potential. Happy viewing!

Joyfully yours,