(out of 5)
Queen Latifah‘s charms can be blamed for the enjoyment here, for while this feelgood comedy by Wayne Wang has most of its cliches telegraphed to the audience by megaphone, the star’s constant classy and unsentimental attitude are well in its favour. She plays a timid department store employee who dreams of going to Europe and meeting a famous chef (Gerard Depardieu) whom she has worshiped for a long time. When a cat scan following a minor injury at work reveals she has inoperable lesions on her brain and will be dead in a month, our girl decides to cash in all her savings and head to where her dreams are situated: a gorgeous mountain resort in Karlovy Vary where her beloved chef works. She immediately charms the pants off the guests and the staff, while messing up the affairs of her store’s tyrannical owner (Timothy Hutton) who just happens to be staying at the hotel with his overworked secretary (Alicia Witt). Predictable with a capital P, it features far too many tangents and too many emotionally manipulative climaxes punctuated by sappy music, but you’ll love it anyway. Latifah is dreamily charismatic, and this one avoids all the lowbrow humour that Bringing Down The House kept succumbing too; there are no stupid bitchslaps or catfights to be found here.
Directed by Wayne Wang
Cinematography by Geoffrey Simpson
Music by George Fenton
Production Design by William Arnold
Costume Design by Daniel Orlandi
Film Editing by Deirdre Slevin