|The first word that comes to mind when describing this film is, "cute." The Cinderella tale of a hotel maid falling in love with a rich and handsome, yet out-of-her-reach senatorial candidate has been brought to the screen here in your typical "Meg Ryan" manner. Except this movie doesn't star Meg Ryan. And it will take an audience more than a few scenes to "fall in love" with Jennifer Lopez's lead character, because she is somewhat abrasive in her dialogue in the beginning. But that grating voice subsides mid-way into the first act and those audience members interested in enjoying a simple romantic comedy might find themselves in luck, once Ralph Fiennes appears on the screen.|
It is certain that Fiennes would have romantic chemistry with even a lamppost, so it is no surprise that he easily charms the audience with his candid performance. This movie shows him in a much different light than his recent performance as a psychopath in Red Dragon and it is impressive to see that he can not only conquer a dramatic role, but also a comedic one as well. When he comes into contact with Lopez on the screen, there are indeed some sparks that fly between the two. In point of fact, there probably could have been more time spent on scenes where they were indeed with one another. Because the film's purpose, specifically as a romantic comedy, depends fifty percent on the romance of it all.
One of the best elements of this film was the wide variety of characters available in supporting roles. Every single actor listed in the credits after the appearance of the title card makes a positive impression on the story. The supporting cast is a rather passionate lot of actors, with Bob Hoskins creating a very moving character with his few scenes and Natasha Richardson making it very easy to laugh at her character's antics. Tyler Posey, who plays Lopez's depressed son, puts a lot of life into his role as a ten year old without a father figure in his life.
The cinematography of this film is not particularly revolutionary, but it serves the film well and includes many of the stock panoramic shots of New York City, where the story takes place. Though one might have spoken to the sound editor about the importance of the clarity of actors' voices when filming a movie. Many times Lopez mutters something funny and a few seconds go by before it is possible to decipher what she said. The dialogue isn't always witty in this film, but when it is, it shouldn't be difficult to understand. Whether Lopez's diction or the position of the boom mike is to blame is uncertain, but there was a deficiency in the sound department. Perhaps they should have looped Lopez's dialogue.
Fiennes's dialogue was usually on target volume wise. And he seems to have gotten the American accent down with ease. Though it is interesting to note that in their sequences together, Lopez and Fiennes don't always have what feels like enough dialogue. They speak for a few moments and then their scene is either over too soon, or they embrace without finishing their present thoughts. Given that the film is not too much over an hour and a half, it's a definite bet that additional scenes between the two were originally scripted, filmed, and edited into the movie, only to be taken out by over-zealous marketers after test screenings.
When a pair of leading lovers has actual chemistry on screen with one another, placing them on screen together for the largest amount of time would seem to be the most advantageous course of action. But as is becoming far too common in romantic comedies, the story conspires to keep the leading lady and gent too far apart for the romance to really come alive. This strategy worked in Sleepless in Seattle and Serendipity, but it is a hard feat to pull off and it seems a more intelligent move to allow the pending lovebirds of whatever story you're trying to tell, have a decent amount of time to get to know one anther before they hop in the sack.
By adhering to most of the standard rules of romantic comedy films, Maid In Manhattan is a film that is more predictable than creative. But in the true spirit of romantic comedies, it really doesn't seem to matter that you know how the movie's going to end up. The key to this film is the relationship between the two lead characters. This film is at its best when Ralph Fiennes and Jennifer Lopez are together on screen, or when one of the supporting characters is cracking an entertaining joke. For fans of the genre or the actors, this film will certainly please. People wishing for more will just have to wait for the deleted scenes on the dvd.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.