source : www.reelviews.net
What happens later represents Meg Ryan’s return with minimal fanfare to the genre that made her a star and resulted in one of the most fruitful female-female writer-actor partnerships in the history of filmmaking. While Nora Ephron wrote the lyrics, Ryan created her three classic rom-coms: When Harry met SallySleepless in Seattle, you’ve got mail – for a period of ten years towards the end of the last century. When she got tired of being typecast, she opted for a leading role in the racy film In the cut, effectively ending her reign as America’s Sweetheart. It’s been eight years since she last made a film and double that since she became a mainstay on the big screen. What happens later is an attempt not to revive the rom-com, which has become a dying genre stuck on streaming TV, but to argue that some 25 years after turning her back on it, Ryan is still a player can be.
although What happens later has fun gently referencing Ryan’s past filmography, but doesn’t overdo it. For example, her age-appropriate co-star (he’s 63, she’s on the cusp of 62 at the time of the film’s release) is David Duchovny, not Tom Hanks or Billy Crystal. Dour Duchovny, the formerX files star who spent a lot of time wallowing in the debauchery of Californian, is a nice counterpoint to the bubbly Ryan, who remains happier as she leaves middle age. There is some chemistry between them, but it comes in fits and starts and only starts to give off heat late in the proceedings. There’s a lot of magical realism (particularly in the form of an omniscient airport announcer who acts as a Greek choir) and Ryan’s character embraces this, while Duchovny is skeptical (a nod from The X files where he was the believer).
The story unfolds at the world’s emptiest regional airport during the height of a snowstorm that grounds most planes and drives away all passengers. Former lovers Willa (Ryan) and Bill (Duchovny) haven’t seen each other in 25 years, when he walked out on her, but they’re not only destined to reconnect, but also to deal with a whole lot of ugly stuff while the storm rages outside. . Now they’re going in different directions: he’s a stockbroker headed to Austin and she’s a “wellness practitioner” headed to Boston. For him it is a journey. For her it is a journey. This is a Before sunrise dwell with one Before midnight show.
Although Ryan (who directed and co-wrote the screenplay) maintains a superficial rom-com veneer, there are dark things at play. This isn’t all hearts and flowers, although it ends with one of the former. Most light romances are forward-looking, with the characters staring into the future as the credits roll. What happens later, as the title suggests, is more about looking at the past and confronting regrets. Life and love have a different flavor when there are more years behind than ahead.
The origins of the film as a play (“Shooting Star” by Steven Dietz) are clear. There are no flashbacks, much of the action takes place in real time, there is only one setting (the airport) and 85% of the film consists of dialogue. We learn the characters’ backstory through their conversations and understand that their breakup was largely due to miscommunication.
What happens later neither offers nor promises a ‘happily ever after’ ending. And while there are instances where the writing crackles and pops, it lacks the pizzazz that Nora Ephron brought to Ryan’s best-known rom-coms. (The film is dedicated to her.)
There are things that don’t work. The magical realism aspect is exaggerated. It’s an annoying idea to have the airport announcer (voiced by “Hal Liggett,” a pseudonym for an actor yet uncredited) interject into the action, and there are moments when Willa’s hippie persona borders on caricature. As if he believes the material is too dry, Ryan tries too hard to make it quirky and those instances, unlike the more grounded, believable moments, where What happens later sputters.
While nostalgia will undoubtedly be a reason for many viewers to give this film a try, it only superficially resembles Ryan’s previous adventures in the genre. This is a more mature project, designed almost exclusively for a segment of older viewers. Like most rom-coms, it’s comfort food, though it lacks the fantasy element associated with less seasoned characters.
What Happens Later (United States, 2023)
source : www.reelviews.net