Only You (1994)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. in Only You

Have Faith in Your Destiny

Starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr., "Only You" was billed as a sort of "Sleepless in Seattle"; sadly it never quite lived up to the comparison. To be honest, "Only You" is not a bad movie as romantic-comedies go, and in many ways harks back to the golden era of Hollywood with many similarities to classics such as "An Affair to Remember" and "Roman Holiday". But it lacks that magical spark, the chemistry and the charm which made those movies the classics they have become.

Ever since dabbling with an Ouija board as a child, Faith (Marisa Tomei - Chaplin) has known the name of her true love, Damon Bradley. But now grown up and engaged to be married to someone who is not Damon Bradley she goes off on a wild goose chase with her sister-in-law to be as she believes her true love is in Italy.

Bonnie Hunt and Marisa Tomei in Only You

The main plot of "Only You" is very predictable, especially when Faith meets a man called Peter on her Italian escapade. But there is a surprising twist, which although is very clever and never expected, it is never used to its full potential, which is just a little bit annoying. Alongside the main plot, you have a secondary story focussing on the character of Kate, Faith's sister-in-law to be. Having become disillusioned with her own marriage, she follows Faith on her adventure and finds herself the object of the affections of a wealthy Italian boutique owner. The two story lines work well together, with the secondary story giving extra substance to the movie which could possibly have become a bit boring without it.

The thing which lets "Only You" down is the lack of any real chemistry between its lead stars, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. At times they come across as two actors just trying to out do each other to gain screen time, and this is the reason why "Only You" never manages to reach the peaks of romance that it should achieve. But all in all, it is a very enjoyable movie which capitalizes on being set in some of the most picturesque parts of Italy.

The main focus of "Only You" is the character of Faith, played by the stunning Marisa Tomei. Although she lights up the screen with her beauty, that is about it. There is no real depth shown in her performance of the main character, but her stunning looks, at times comparable to Audrey Hepburn, do make up for this.

Opposite Marisa Tomei is Robert Downey Jr. as Peter, and to be honest, it is his performance that makes "Only You" so enjoyable. It's not only his natural sense of comic timing which makes his performance special, but also his ability to display emotion without over acting. Sadly, the scenes between the two of them lack any real chemistry and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there was some form of bad feeling between them.

The only other really significant performance comes from Bonnie Hunt, who seems to have made a niche for herself, by playing older sisters/friends who offer guidance to a close friend. As always, her performance is very good and she radiates beauty as her dull life is spiced up by the romantic gestures from her Italian acquaintance. There are two other notable names which make appearances in supporting roles, Billy Zane and Fisher Stevens.

"Only You" is directed by Norman Jewison who cut his directional teeth way back in the golden age of cinema with romantic comedies such as "Send Me No Flowers" featuring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. So it is little wonder that "Only You" has many similarities to movies from the golden era, such as "Three Coins in the Fountain" and "Roman Holiday", with the latter being paid tribute to in more than one scene. My respect goes to Jewison for trying to recreate a film from the golden era, but sadly he fails to achieve it, this is mainly due to the modern stars lacking the class of such Hollywood greats as Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. What Jewison does do extremely well, is to capitalize on the picturesque scenery of Italy, from Venice to Rome and onto the Amalfi coast. Plus, for anyone who has had the pleasure of driving one, the inclusion of an original Fiat 500 is a great bit of nostalgia.

The soundtrack to "Only You" is typically soft and romantic with pieces such as "Some Enchanted Evening", " Only You (and Only You)" and "Once in a Lifetime" setting the mood. But with the film being set in Italy, there is strong musical reference to Italian works both new and old, with pieces composed by Giuseppe Verdi as well as modern songs such as "Amore Contro" by Eros Ramazzotti.

What this all boils down to is that yes "Only You" does try to capitalize on the success of "Sleepless in Seattle", but if this film hadn't then there would have been another one lining up to do so. Personally I feel it is a good attempt to carry on the brief resurgence in romantic comedies with a nostalgic feel to them. Sadly this falls slightly short of being a great film, thanks to the lack of chemistry between the two lead stars. As a romantic comedy, it provides both in abundance without being over silly or too sentimental, and with the charm of Italy providing a beautiful backdrop for the story, it is truly a good film.


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