The Very Thought of You

on August 27, 1999 by Mike Kerrigan
   This movie has been on the shelf for well over a year but, like a fine cheese, it has only improved with age, at least from a marketing standpoint. Since it was finished, Monica Potter has gone on to star opposite Robin Williams in "Patch Adams" while Joseph Fiennes played the title role in the Oscar-winning "Shakespeare in Love." However, this charming little movie isn't a rare Stilton-more like a delightful soufflé. The plot is totally preposterous, relying on such mind-numbing coincidence as to be totally unreal, and the characters are largely two-dimensional. But you don't care. They are so damned charismatic and it is so beautifully paced that you just have to go along for the ride. At 83 minutes it is exactly the right length with hardly a wasted moment. And the structure-the way the story keeps turning back on itself-is nothing short of masterful.
   Potter is a fed up midwesterner who decides to change her life by buying a one-way plane ticket to England. At the Minneapolis airport, wealthy, skirt-chasing record executive Hollander secretly buys her a first-class ticket so he can hit on her at 30,000 feet.
   In London she coincidentally meets his two best friends and falls for one of them. Of course, none of the three guys know about the involvement of the others, and the object of their affection doesn't know the three have been pals since they were kids.
   Potter is by turns luminous and quirky. Right now she is one really good script away from stardom. Fiennes, in a precursor to his bit as the Bard, is in his element as a tortured soul wracked by self-doubt and indecision. The supporting cast is first-rate. And, to be fair, the hilarious outcome of a sequence with a psychiatrist comes as a complete surprise.    Starring Monica Potter, Rufus Sewell, Tom Hollander and Joseph Fiennes. Directed by Nick Hamm. Written by Peter Morgan. Produced by Grainne Marmion. A Miramax release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for language. Running time: 83 min.
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