Next Stop, Wonderland
(1998, Hope Davis, Alan Gelfant, Dir. Brad Anderson)
As soon as I heard the bossa nova sound of "Desafinado" playing over the opening credits, I knew that I would love Next Stop, Wonderland. At one point in the film, someone says of the main character Erin, "
See, you are sad and happy. You don't smile but you are content. You are sad and happy at the same time. In Brazil we have a term for that - it's 'Saudade'. It's like ... melancholic, nostalgic; it's very Bossanova." It was wonderful and rare to encounter a character like that in what is essentially a romantic comedy.
The premise of the film is that you have the two main characters, Erin and Alan (Gelfant), who seem kind of destined for each other, and get very close to crossing paths, but don't actually meet until the end of the film. Yes, kind of like Sleepless in Seattle
, except that I don't like Sleepless in Seattle
and I like this film. That said, I do have to agree with the character who says that the mystery isn't in how two people meet, but in what makes them stay together. And I've got to say that I wish the film had shown more of the two characters after they meet.
Hope Davis' performance is the main draw of this film: it's a terrific showcase of nuanced characterization. Alan Gelfant is appealing in his role. The New England Aquarium is almost another character in itself.
There's good humor to be found in Erin's decision to go on blind dates with men who answer the personal ad her mother places in the newspaper as well as in Philip Seymour Hoffman's small role as Erin's ex.
Definitely a keeper and an overlooked gem of a film.