Time: 105 Minutes
I don't know what it is about this film that compels me to watch it whenever it's on TV. Though if I had to venture a guess I'd say Alec Baldwin. He has never given a more romantic or heartbreaking performance than he does here and it makes me cry every time. He plays Peter Hoskins a man who accidentally meets the woman of his dreams, played by Meg Ryan, and within weeks asks her to marry him. Then, right after the ceremony - after she is given a kiss by a strange old man who stumbles upon the ceremony - he watches helplessly as she becomes someone else right before his eyes. He can't figure out what changed Rita, but he knows in his soul the woman before him is NOT the woman he fell in love with.
Based on a stage play, this film depends heavily on dialogue and gestures for meaning and depth. Especially since the production design is nothing special. Ryan's depiction of Rita before and after the wedding is like night and day. The transformation is subtle - all posture and intonation - yet the "two" Rita's are quite distinct from one another, making it easy to feel for Peter. His quest to unravel the mystery of what happened is at the heart of the film. He has no one to turn to, but he refuses to give up on their dreams of happiness. When he finds the old man everything seems to come together but the path to reconnecting with the real Rita is not an easy one.
Everyone thinks he's crazy, that the reality of marriage and commitment are clouding his judgement. Even her parents try to talk sense into him, but we know he's right and that's what draws you in. His desperation is palpable. The scene where he calls "Rita" out on her deception is truly heartbreaking. The premise of the film is somewhat hokey and its message about falling in love and how we perceive our partners is also a bit obvious, but if you're tired of the same old boy-meets-girl story, look no further. This is a romantic gem that captures the heart and stimulates the soul.