Gwyneth Paltrow, sporting a credible English accent, plays Helen, a London-based public relations exec who gets fired on the same day that her sleazy writer-boyfriend, Gerry (John Lynch) is having it off in their flat with his ex-love Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn).
On her way home, the distraught Helen just misses her train as the sliding doors of a Tube carriage close on her.
Here’s the gimmick. Writer/director Peter Howitt, in a frisky feature debut, backs up and starts again.
Helen catches the train, arrives home to find Gerry and Lydia at it and walks out. She starts seeing James (John Hannah), a sympathetic stranger she meets on the Tube.
Howitt divides the film into two realities. In the first, Helen gets home too late to catch Gerry in the act and remains a dupe. In the second, fate connects Helen with a new job, a new man and new confidence.
The part in which Helen doesn’t meet James drags. The rest effervesces, thanks to Howitt’s deft writing – when he isn’t pushing cute to the cringe level.
The actors sparkle, with the exception of Tripplehorn, whose character is inexplicably written and played as a caricatured bitch.
Paltrow has rarely been this sly or bewitching.
And Hannah, who delivered the memorable eulogy to his gay lover in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) – which this film accidentally on purpose resembles – proves himself a world-class charmer.
Definitely the date-night movie of choice for incurable romantics.