A complex romantic story unfolds in two parallel worlds that split apart by a seemingly unimportant event of Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) catching or missing a subway train. In one, she comes home early and finds her boyfriend cheating on her, but not in the other. The two stories dance together all the way to the end until something else happens…
Director: Peter Howitt
STC Genre: Buddy Love (Rom-Com) – despite what Blake says
- “Incomplete Hero” – Helen who is not very happy in her current relationship with Gerry
- “Counterpart” – James
- “Complication” – two different ones, in fact. In one version she doesn’t even learn about him, and in the other – well, that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?
Yes, with this movie I feel confident enough to disagree with Blake Snyder, and reclassify it as Buddy Love (instead of Out Of The Bottle). Why? Because there is really no “wish”. Helen is reasonably happy with Gerry, as long as she doesn’t know better, and makes no wish except for his success with a book (which quite obviously never happens). There is really no “spell” except for that freak incident of “time split” at the station. And while one can argue she learns the “lesson”, whatever that is, it is a necessary change in the hero that has to happen in Buddy Love too. And, most importantly, where is the emphasis in the story? What is always on the foreground? It is clearly the relationship of Helen and James and/or Gerry, and as a B-story, Gerry and Lydia. So, there it is.
The movie itself is great. The story is on one hand rather complex – you have to figure out which “universe” each scene is from, and the two stories interweave in a rather non-trivial way. But on the other hand, it is quite simple – it is a story of a woman who is discovering the truth about her boyfriend, and ultimately about herself and her own desires. Who wouldn’t understand that? The two possible scenarios is a clever tool to explore the character in more ways, going deeper than otherwise would be possible. I admire Peter Howitt for putting together such an intricate story, and showing it in such an elegant way.