My entry to the Dream Vacation Blogathon

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When I found out that Katy over at Girl Meets Cinema is hosting this awesome blogathon, I knew I had to participate! I LOVE travel, it’s really one of the best things in life to be able to see different parts of the world and experience other cultures, it enriches you in ways nothing else could. So here’s the gist of the blogathon:

If you could travel to any place in the film universe with any of your favorite characters or love-to-hate villains, what kind of a vacation would you take? Post your choice(s) of a destination(s), and at least three characters who would tag along.

I’m blessed that I have an awesome travel buddy that is my dear hubby, but of course we’re talking about a dream vacation here so why not indulge in our fantasy a bit, right? 😉

I was going to pick a totally fantastical place like Aasgard [with Loki as my travel companion of course] but in the end I decided to go with real places, two of which I have visited before but would return in a heart beat. Oh how I wish I could be transported to one of these places right about now…

Not Another Happy Ending – Glasgow

Certainly you can’t be surprised by this. I’ve always been obsessed with all things Scottish and then THIS movie happens. I fell in love with two things from this movie, the French Adonis that is Stanley Weber… AND the city of Glasgow, which was beautifully-captured here. I wish more movies would be set in Scotland’s largest city as it’s really as picturesque as London, which is such a popular city used in movies.

Glasgow during the day… [click image to see a larger version]


Glasgow in the night time…

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Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

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Tom Duval – the publisher

Obviously I’d want Tom Duval, the French publisher, to be my travel companion. As he’s not a Scottish native, there might be areas of Glasgow we both can discover together. Plus, he can help me refine my novel and later publish it… nothing like a gorgeous man who loves books 😉 He practically looks like a rugged French Clark Kent [swoon]

TomRoddy_NAHE1NAHE_TomRoddy1Ideally it’d just be me and Tom spending a whole day [or year] together in Glasgow, but Roddy is Tom’s BFF and he’s such a hoot! I love watching these two goofing off with each other.

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I’ll invite Anne, Tom’s business advisor, along for the ride too, it’s be nice to have a gal pal to gush about Tom with 😉 And Darsie is technically an imaginary character but she’s a lot of fun so she’s welcome to show up anytime to spice things up!


Notting Hill (1999) – London

There are a bunch of great movies set in London but this is one of the first ones I saw that made me totally in love with the city of London. Notting Hill itself is a district in central London, a cosmopolitan neighborhood that host the famous Portobello Road Market. My husband and I went there in 2010 but I’ve always wanted to return to this charming city!

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I didn’t get a chance to ride those iconic red double-decker bus as we rode the tube everywhere, but it’s gotta be fun to see the city above ground.


Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

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I think William would just be preoccupied with Anna Scott so I’ll invite Bernie, Spike, and Honey to be my travel companion! Bernie has such a stressful job that I think he ought to have a little fun, something neither Spike nor Honey would have a problem with. I want to visit the posh stuff like Harrod’s and the Savoy Hotel where Anna was staying, but Honey would also take me to the off-the-beaten areas of London away from the tourists.

Sabrina (1995) – Paris

Aaaaah Paris… naturally I want Stanley Weber to be my own personal tour guide but he’s not exactly a film character 😉 I knew I had to include the City of Light and this is one of my favorite movies that made me fall for Paris every time I watch it.

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“Paris is always a good idea.” – Sabrina

Indeed Sabrina… I’m right there with you. First time I visited Paris was when I was only 13, and I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the place until I returned last year with my husband. Needless to say, I fell in love with this city and seeing it on film always makes me feel so nostalgic.

Three characters I’d invite to tag along…

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I’d take Sabrina and her two Parisian friends Louis and Irene. Every time I watch this movie, which is quite often, I enjoy seeing Sabrina’s interactions with both of them. They’re her first real friends who took her under her wings, so to speak, when she’s just starting out.

I LOVE Fanny Ardant as Irene, Sabrina’s mentor at Vogue. I always remember her wise words to Sabrina, “You seem embarrassed by loneliness, it’s only a place to start.” and my personal favorite: “Illusions are dangerous people, they have no flaws.”

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I kind of have a crush on Patrick Bruel as Louis, and his character as a fashion photographer is so affable and cool. I’d LOVE to have someone like him show me his Parisian hang out and give me some photography pointers while we’re at it.


So that’s my dream vacation based on some of my favorite movies. Where would YOU like to go on YOUR dream vacation?

FlixChatter Review: The Other Woman (2014)

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I went in to The Other Woman expecting next to nothing, but I came out with sore abs, cheekbones and wet cheeks. Simply put, this film was hilarious! I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in a really long time. In my opinion, comedies are hard to review because whether or not it’s funny is all relative. I must’ve been in desperate need for a good laugh, because there were parts where I was crying from laughing so hard. If you see it, I think you’ll know exactly which scenes I’m referencing. Yes, it’s raunchy and has some slapstick humor, but it works. Its 40 Year Old Virgin meets Bridesmaids.

The film opens with what we’re lead to believe is the beginning of a normal RomCom. Carly (Cameron Diaz) and Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have the typical meet cute and we see a montage of growing romance. Then the rug is pulled out from under our feet, as we learn Mark is actually married. However, Carly is unaware of his marital status and is just as upset over Mark’s betrayal as his wife, Kate (Leslie Mann). That’s not all! Just when we think we have Mark figured out, we learn he’s not only cheating on his wife but also his girlfriend. Duh, duh, duh.

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Meet Amber (Kate Upton), a twenty-something with a gorgeous body with not so much as a light bulb glowing upstairs. Amber is setup to play the typical dumb blonde; however, the film acknowledges this cliché and pokes fun at it. With that said, Amber is significantly downplayed (as you might’ve guessed Upton doesn’t really contribute much to the film). In fact, Vulture created a post listing the entirety of Upton’s lines. 

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After Kate awkwardly yet hilariously confronts Carly about her husband, the two begin the weirdest friendship ever (the tagline says it all), but you’ll love every minute of it! What I truly appreciated was instead of the women being petty towards one another they banded together and decided to get payback. Diaz does exceptionally well with physical comedy and Mann isn’t afraid of making herself look ridiculous for the sake of comedy. There were several scenes where Mann delivered perfect verbal diarrhea, which must’ve been completely impromptu. Nevertheless, I dare you to keep a straight face! Also, keep an eye out for some of Mann’s more ridiculous outfits.

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You know who did surprise me was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Most notable for his portrayal of Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones, Nikolaj is not too shabby with comedy. His comedic timing was very natural and seemed unphased performing some self-deprecating scenes (comparable to the infamous Dumb & Dumber bathroom scene). Additionally, I was impressed by his American accent. Even though he slipped a few times, for a Danish actor it was pretty good!

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There were very few things that bothered me, but Nikki Minaj was one of them. Personally, I found Minaj (Lydia) to be very distracting and, like Upton, didn’t add much to this film. Luckily, she only has a small role and is featured only a handful of times. Additionally, there were a few cheesy scenes that tried to bring a serious note to the film, which I thought were entirely unnecessary. 

I purposely avoided watching the trailer and didn’t really know anything going into the film. However, I did watch it afterwards and was pleasantly surprised by how much they left out. So if you think you’ve seen all the comedic parts, there’s a lot more where that came from! Overall, I really enjoyed watching this film, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t laugh as much as I did. Enjoy!

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Have you seen The Other Woman? What did you think of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau comedic debut?

10 Favorite Romantic Films Directed by Women

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Firstly, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, everyone! I wish you love, good health and good movies… today and every single day of the year 😀

Now, this list is long overdue, but lately I’ve been thinking about all the romantic films that I love… and you know what, a lot of them are directed by female directors! When I mean romantic, it doesn’t always mean a romance genre or rom-com, though many of them certainly are in this category, but it could be from other genres so long as there is some kind of love story involving the protagonist. As with list of this kind, obviously it’s not complete, there are a bunch from female filmmakers I still haven’t seen yet, i.e. Across the Universe, After the Wedding, Monsoon Wedding, etc. That’s where YOU fellow bloggers and dear readers come in, I ask that you recommend one or two of your own picks.

1. Austenland (2013) | Jerusha Hess (full review)

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I know the critics aren’t fond of this but I had such a blast watching this. The entire theater seems to have a good time as well, even the male moviegoers around me were laughing constantly. It’s a Disneyland-type resort for Jane Austen fans, filled with one hilarious scenario after another. I’m not saying it’s a perfect movie, some of the mindless slapstick stuff are indeed cringe-worthy, but I was caught up in its fluffy buoyant spirit, and the ending is pure escapist romance any Darcy fan would appreciate. All things considered, it’s a pretty good debut from Jerusha Hess who was a writer of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre.

2. Bride & Prejudice (2004) | Gurinder Chadha

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Another Austen-related movie that offers a fun twist to the classic period drama. I first saw Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham which was fun, but I REALLY love this one and Aishwarya Rai is absolutely stunning. Yes she’s obviously too gorgeous to play the supposedly plain-looking Elizabeth Bennett-inspired character Lalita, but she made it work somehow. Martin Henderson is surprisingly endearing as Mr. Darcy, his dimples made me forgive his rather stiff acting style, ahah. If you need a mood-lifting movie, I can’t recommend this one enough! Watch out for the Snake Dance scene 😉

3. Dear Frankie | Shona Auerbach (full review)

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Ok, this is not a romantic film per se but the relationship between Frankie’s mother and the Stranger alone is enough to make this one eligible for this list. Emily Mortimer has a scorching chemistry with Gerry Butler [in one of my all-time favorite roles] despite their rather icy first meeting that’s not exactly a *meet-cute* variety. But man, that doorway scene… slo-burn romance doesn’t get more tantalizing than this. I also love that the ending is open-ended which makes it even more intriguing. Not sure why British director Shona Auerbach hasn’t made another film since. Now if only Butler could find another script as good as this, likely buried under a pile of rubbish he’s constantly picking on lately 😦

4. Little Women (1994) | Gillian Armstrong

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I love this story of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. The cast is fabulous, including a young and vivacious Christian Bale (before he went to the brooding and dark side) and Gabriel Byrne as dashing professor Friedrich Bhaer. On top of the sweet and poignant love story of the four sisters, it’s also a warm celebration of family as they endure trying times in times of war. This reminds me I need to check out more works by miss Armstrong, most notably Mrs. Soffel and Oscar & Lucinda.

5. Lost in Translation (2003) | Sofia Coppola

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I’ve only seen two Sofia Coppola films so far but I think this would likely remain my favorite. I’ve always been fond of unlikely pairings in movies… a faded movie star and a neglected young wife hits it off as their paths crossed in a foreign land. The Tokyo backdrop gives the film a quirky yet strangely melancholic mood that works well for the story. I can see that it’s not a film for everyone as my friends have said it bored ’em to tears but I find it delightful and hilarious.

6. Return to Me (2000) | Bonnie Hunt 

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I’ve dedicated a post for this a couple of years ago and it pains me that a lot of people still haven’t seen this. I’ve re-watched it recently and I’m still in love with it. The story starts out pretty sad but not in a depressing kind of way, in fact, you want these two characters to find love again after what they’ve been through. Thank you Bonnie Hunt for making an unabashedly romantic movie that’s genuinely heartfelt, enchanting and funny. I love the effortless chemistry between David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, and the supporting cast of James Belushi, David Alan Grier, Carol O’Connor and miss Hunt herself are delightful.

“When she met you, her heart beat truly for the first time. Perhaps it was meant to be with you always.”

Oh that line gets me every time. You’ll know why when you see the film. I also have to mention the lovely soundtrack with the likes of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. In fact the movie is named after Martin’s song of the same name.

7. Sleepless In Seattle (1993) | Nora Ephron

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Oh how I miss Nora Ephron. This is the first film of hers I saw and I fell in love with her witty dialog and fun but relatable characters. Of course the genius is in the casting of Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan, even when the two protagonist barely have a screen together, we are so invested in them and really root for them to be together. I have seen this countless times and I also fall in love with the city it’s set in, not to mention the timeless music that fits the film so perfectly. The supporting cast is wonderful, even Hanks’ own wife Rita Wilson has a scene-stealing hilarious moment when describing the finale of An Affair to Remember. This movie is chock-full of memorable scenes!

8. Water (2005) | Deepa Mehta

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This is the last film of Mehta’s Elements Trilogy, set in 1938 when India was still under British rule. The film deals with a heart-wrenching topic of gender inequality for women, especially widows, who must live their lives abandoned in an ashram. There is so much cultural and political depth to this film that was tough to process at times, but it’s definitely worth a watch as it’s such a powerful and beautiful story. There’s a theme of unlikely friendship and forbidden romance, especially the relationship between a beautiful young widow Kalyani (Lisa Ray), who’s forced to prostitution to support the ashram, and Narayan, an idealistic follower of Ghandi from a higher caste. Mehta’s films are rife with controversy, there were intense protests when she was filming this that she had to relocate to Sri Lanka to work on this film. It deservedly earned an Oscar nominated for Best Language Film.

9. What Women Want (2000) | Nancy Meyers

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Regardless of what one may think about his personal life, Mel Gibson was undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s bonafide movie star in his prime. He can effortlessly do action, drama AND comedy. This role shows his movie star charm as a chauvinistic advertising exec who gains an ability to hear women’s thoughts following a fluke accident. Ok so the premise is wacky but this part fantasy, part war-of-the-sexes comedy does deliver the laughs and there’s actually more substance to the story than meets the eye. Helen Hunt is utterly believable in the tough but vulnerable female exec and makes for a great sparring partner for Gibson.

10. You’ve Got Mail (1998) | Nora Ephron

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Another winner from miss Ephron. It has the spirit of rom-coms of the 40s and 50s like Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or even Vincente Minnelli’s Designing Woman with the two eventual lovebirds’ bantering with each other. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks reunited five years after Sleepless in Seattle and actually share lots of screen time together this time around.

I actually saw the original movie it’s based on, The Shop Around the Corner, and though I enjoyed that one, I didn’t love it as much as this one. Again, I love the witty script, thanks to the Ephron sisters Nora and Delia, and of course the two leads are as charming as ever. It’s also beautifully shot in New York City, which almost become a character in itself, especially during the gorgeous Christmas season.

Honorable Mentions:

• Mansfield Park | Patricia Rozema
Top10MansfieldParkThis is a serious oversight on my part, it should’ve been on my MAIN top 10 list instead of Honorable Mentions. Thank you Dave for mentioning it, I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about that one. It’s one of my favorite period dramas of all time, I LOVE the tentative love story between Fannie Price (Frances O’Connor) & Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller). It’s a darker tone of a Jane Austen adaptation as Fannie challenges Edmund’s father of his dealings with slavery in the Regency era, but ultimately, it’s a lovely and compelling love story that holds a special place in my heart.

• Bend It Like Beckham | Gurinder Chadha
• Bright Star | Jane Campion
• ‘Bastille’ segment in Paris, Je T’aime | Isabel Coixet



• The Holiday | Nancy Meyers


This Cockeyed.com article shows a great list of female filmmakers and their movies. We obviously need more of them in Hollywood!


So is your favorite romantic-themed movie on this list? Please do add YOUR own picks that you’d recommend!

Rental Pick: Bride & Prejudice (2004)

This review is part of Impassioned Cinema‘s Romance February Event. Check out this hub page for more romance films’ reviews from other bloggers.

As a fan of the Austen’s most celebrated novel, naturally my interest is piqued when I first heard about this project. I’m actually not a big fan of Bollywood musicals, even though it’s massively popular in my home country, but as Roger Ebert put it, this is not a Bollywood movie, but a Hollywood musical comedy incorporating Bollywood elements. It’s an amusing review as Mr. Ebert seemed to be distracted by miss Aishwarya Rai‘s beauty as he’s writing it, but really, who can blame him??

Former miss Word 1994 Rai lights up the screen as the Indian Lizzy Bennet, she gained 20 pounds to play this role in order to look more ‘plain,’ though like the Keira Knightly in the Joe Wright version of Pride & Prejudice, she is a far cry from being a plain jane. Despite that, I think Rai is able to capture the strong-willed as well as vulnerability of Lizzy Bennet and there’s certain warmth about her in the scenes with her sisters.

I like Gurinder Chadha’s previous work, a soccer rom-com Bend It Like Beckham, which also deals about bending the rules of society. This time Chadha takes on Austen’s classic tale, in which the protagonist’s mother is eager to find suitable husbands for her four unmarried daughters. Chadha stayed pretty closely to the original story, even the Indian names for the characters are somewhat similar – the Bennets are now the Bhakshis, Mr. Collins is Mr. Kholi, and Bingley is Balraj, etc., only Darcy and Wickham are the only names kept for the original.

This is the first time I saw miss Rai on film as it’s her first movie done entirely in English and found her to be very charming and stunning beyond belief. I think Julia Roberts once called her the most beautiful woman in the world and it’s a fitting title. New Zealand actor Martin Henderson with dimples to die for is convincing enough as Mr. Darcy though he doesn’t have the charisma of Colin Firth or even Matthew MacFadyen. Still I think the two protagonists have a sweet chemistry.

Another thing I love about this movie is the hilarious supporting cast, especially actors playing Mrs. Bakshi and the Bakshi’s distant relative who’s matched up with Lalita, Mr. Kholi (Nitin Ganatra). Ganatra is especially hilarious as the Westernized businessman who prides himself in his success as a hotelier in L.A. The way he’s trying to woo Lalita will have you in stitches! Fans of the TV series LOST and ROME will recognize Naveen Andrews and Indira Varma playing brother and sister. Naveen is such a charismatic actor and a pretty awesome dancer as well!

One thing that wasn’t done as well is the relationship between the devious Mr. Wickham (Daniel Gillies, you might recognize him as Kirsten Dunst’s fiancee in Spider-man 2) and Lalita. Chadha took much more liberty on that storyline what with the chase that involve the London Eye and scuffle between Darcy & Wickham, but still the essence of the story about him running off with Lalita’s younger sis was there.

The filmmaker doesn’t take things too seriously, silly moments of grandios proportion are done in tongue-in-cheek fashion, such as the scene on the beach when Darcy and Lalita took a stroll, suddenly a ridiculously large gospel choir serenading them, joined by a group of California surfers swaying their surfboards! The hilarious cultural comedy when Lalita’s youngest sister performed the cobra dance that almost gave Darcy a heart attack is a hoot, too!

Any fans of Austen should be entertained by this movie. It’s a classic comedy of manners done in the most jubilant way. The script is skillfully written to account for not only the class systems. If you think the poster looks vibrant and festive, the movie lives up to it. There are quite a few song and dance sequences and characters do burst into song and dances in the middle of the scenes, but they’re balanced by a witty script and a dynamic pace. Incredibly colorful and unabashedly effervescent, no matter what mood you’re in, it’s tough not to be buoyed by the feverish energy of this movie. I like this movie so much that it’s one of the 8 movies I’d bring if I were stranded on a desert island.

Check out the trailer below:



Have you seen this movie? Well, what did you think?

Return to Me – The beautiful, poignant chickflix nobody’s ever seen!

RETURN TO ME

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I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon this one years ago, but I sure glad I did. Now I’m not a huge fan of chickflix in general, especially those with the quintessential formula of ‘boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back and they live happily ever after.’ So it’s sooo refreshing to see one that isn’t quite so cookie-cutter. Being that we just saw this recently on our monthly movie nite, it’s still fresh in my mind.

David Duchovny (of the X-Files fame) plays a Chicago builder named Bob Rueland who’s happily married to a beautiful zoologist Elizabeth (Joely Richardson). The beginning scenes show a contrast between a charmed life of the couple at a benefit party, and a young woman strapped in a hospital bed in dire need for a heart transplant. But Bob’s happiness is cut short when his wife is suddenly killed in a car accident. You can easily guess what’s happening next. The young woman’s loving grandfather Marty (played by Carroll O’Connor with his thick Irish brogue) received a call on his special black phone inside his restaurant. It’s clear the phone is dedicated for when his granddaughter Grace gets a heart transplant (on the wall right above it is her name circled with a heart). Her close friends all wait in the hospital for her as she goes through the surgery, whilst Marty spent the entire night at the chapel praying for her.

Fast forward a year later, Grace (Minnie Driver) survives the operation and is recovering at home. She is shown painting in her garden and helps out waiting tables at the Irish-Italian restaurant owned by her loving grandpa and his Italian business partner, Angelo. A rather odd cuisine combination indeed! At his friend’s urging, Marty finally gives Grace a plane ticket to Rome so she could paint in Piazza Novona (‘where real artists paint’ says Angelo). Grace is ecstatic as she’s never been able to travel all her life due to her condition.

Off she goes to her BFF’s house Megan (don’t we all wish we had a friend like this, played by Bonnie Hunt who also wrote the screenplay). She and Megan’s large family—she’s got 5 kids and obviously overwhelmed by them—goes to the zoo. Grace is still holding on to the thank you letter she plans to send to the organ donor, but Megan says that she needs to move on (‘send it off and move on, honey, I’m sure they have’), and so she finally did. Right after she drops it off the mailbox, she unconsciously rubbed elbows with Bob! She sort of stopped walking, not sure what just hit her, then quipped ‘whatever it was, it didn’t hurt.’ By this time, I was yearning for the two to meet!

Bob’s BFF Charlie’s been wanting to set him up, and after a year of being all alone with his dog, Bob finally agrees to meet him at, you guessed it, O’Reilly’s!! You know the term how a couple ‘meet cute,’ well their first meeting is exactly that without being overly clichéd. Bob immediately says ‘have we met before?’ and when he ditches his annoying blind date, Grace gives her someone else’s to-go order ‘on the house.’

Bob leaves his phone at the restaurant (intentionally perhaps?) and the night he goes back to retrieve it is when they finally have a chance to be alone together. Gracie’s grandpa & friends happily play matchmakers (as they all share a common bond of being widowers). David and Minnie have a great chemistry together and it’s fun watching them being smitten by each other. Even though it’s clear Bob adores her, Grace still hides the fact that she had a heart transplant and is quite insecure about her scar. There’s a cute scene where she thought Bob was going to unbutton her blouse and she slaps him. She then apologizes nervously and in the end gives him a kiss, leaving Bob bemused yet blissful. it’s a genuinely funny yet moving moment!

It’s great to see Bob finds love again and for Grace to love for the first time in her life. Everything seems all rosy until the night Grace is supposed to reveal her ‘secret’ to Bob. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but that incident leads to her decision to go away to Rome. One of the most memorable scenes is when grandpa Marty tells Bob ‘when Gracie meets you, her heart beats truly for the first time …perhaps it’s meant to be with you always’ Awww … have those tissues handy, gals!

Unlike most chick-flix, even though it’s predictable that they’d be together, it still feels fresh and sincere. Given what each of them has gone through, you just root for them to be happy. Bonnie Hunt‘s debut as a director is truly impressive, the film is sprinkled with cute humors and witty dialog. The acting is believable and natural, and the supporting cast (including James Belushi) are all top notch. Minnie Driver, who’s British, also pulls off a decent American accent. I commend Bonnie for injecting faith into the story without being ‘preachy.’ This is also one of those rare romantic stories that blooms without being ‘physical,’ kind of like a Jane Austen pic for modern day. The soundtrack is also a major plus with classic songs by Dean Martin, Sinatra, etc. It adds pizazz and energy throughout the film.

I definitely recommend this to all of you. Go put it on your Netflix queue! =)

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Have you seen this movie? I’d love to hear what you think!