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:: Kate

This film marks a lighter change of pace for director James Mangold. He has previously been associated with dark, brooding drama like “Copland” and “Girl Interrupted”. It also shows Meg Ryan in an accustomed part in a romantic comedy, a genre she’s been synonymous with during the early-mid 1990s. “Kate and Leopold” provides a predictable, but warm and glowing feel with Ryan and Hugh Jackman leading the way with terrific character interaction.

To add a fresh touch to the romance, Mangold adds a little element of science fiction. Although it spices up the action, nothing groundbreaking is reflected overall. Leopold (Jackman), the Duke of Albany, lives a life of luxury in the year 1876. He sees a stranger in his uncle’s house and pursues the man, which amazingly leads him to New York City in the year 2001. He is an intellectual British aristocrat who was about to sell out and marry an American heiress when this time-travel incident happened. He is found in the apartment of Stuart (Liev Schreiber), his great great grandson. When Stuart is involved in an elevator accident that lands him in hospital before he can revert Leopold back to 1876, the Duke then comes under the care of Stuart'’ downstairs neighbour, Kate (Ryan) and her brother Charlie (Breckin Meyer). Leopold is not supposed to be exposed to the modern world. Kate knows about Leopold’s existence but doesn’t believe it, thereby reluctant to look after him. Then, in her capacity as a marketing executive, she unveils a plan to have Leopold in an advertising campaign she’s working on. The two spend time together and fall in love. But there is a problem of age difference.

While in 2001, Leopold doesn’t go through the typical problems one might see in other time-shock films. He acclimatises well, in line with his natural intellect, telling great stories, and working with “modern” technology. Check how he works the toaster! With Charlie, they engage in some man-to-man advice for attracting women that is quite humorous.

Meg Ryan remains appealing in these types of films because she still knows how to exude warmth to the audience. It’s her typical overworked, exasperated, career woman with a cool wardrobe style. She’s great at what she does. I believe that it’s Hugh Jackman’s charm and stature that really adds quality to “Kate & Leopold”. He gleams with confidence in a role that could have made other less-competent actors open to ridicule.

Director James Mangold presents a sweet, uncomplicated romance. The chemistry between the lead actors works pleasantly and, though there is no powerful sexual attraction, the film works through innocent romance. “Kate & Leopold”, with the time-travel element, will fascinate some, but may be just too candy-laced for others. The fun ride and good look, with a likeable ending, is satisfying enough.

Screening on general release including the Classic Cinema and Dendy Brighton.