Coming to theatres from director Meg Ryan and Bleecker Street comes a rom-com that remembers things differently when WHAT HAPPENS LATER.
Wilhelmina Davis (Meg Ryan) is trying to catch a plane to Boston, William Davis (David Duchovny) is trying to catch a plane to Austin. At the same airport at the same time, they both run into a huge problem, well two huge problems. One, a cyclone bomb of a winter storm is grounding airplanes and the second, they know one another.
Doing the “I hope he/she doesn’t see me” dance of covering their faces and hiding behind pillars, it doesn’t help when they finally come face to face. Their story immediately spills out as they were together in their early 20’s. Willa remembers it was William who did the leaving, William believes they parted on good terms – neither is remembering the truth.
Now, William/Bill is dealing with his own marriage and the fact that he upset his 15-year-old daughter with words he regrets saying but doesn’t know how to fix. Willa is trying to help a friend get out of a stick situation in her own home. Knowing they can’t avoid one another; they almost instantly fall into old bantering patterns which is their way of flying around the truth of how they really feel.
As the airport shuts down leaving the two passengers/lovers/acquittances stranded, there is nothing left to do but drink, reminisce, try to dig through the honestly of their parting and come to terms with the pain that that happens when you are 20 and remembering when you are 50+. It’s never to late to speak of the past, understand the pain and then look into each other’s eyes and forgive.
It could happen!
Ryan as Willa is a woman who seems to be stuck somewhere between Bill leaving and a grounded airplane. Knowing that blaming him for everything has solved nothing as the years have gone by and a rain stick isn’t about to give her answers – only telling the truth. Ryan gives us her 1993 YOU’VE GOT MAIL quirkiness and 1989 WHEN HARRY MET SALLY vibe clothing choice along with a mixing of every character she has played in a rom-com. That’s not a bad thing because if the formula works then don’t change it. The role of Willa is charming in all respects so it works for Ryan.
Duchovny as William/Bill gets a chance to flex his comedy muscles and tackle the Ryan-clock of verbal witticisms and timing. He takes his punches but doesn’t hesitate to make sure that a sword can cut both ways. Not meaning to wound, only to poke a little at the fabric that Willa has woven regarding their past relationship. Bringing in a little light is meant to help her see but also forces Duchovny’s Bill to reevaluate his own perspective of what he has been telling himself about that time so long ago.
Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.
WHAT HAPPENS LATER is a comedy absolutely geared toward a certain age group of viewers because, quite honestly, I can’t imagine someone in their 20s being all that interested. The pull is the late 80’s early 90’s when Ryan reign supreme as the queen of rom-com’s. The film is based on the 2008 play Shooting Star by Steven Dietz but it is quite clear that Ryan paid attention to creator/director Nora Ephron’s ability to give us love, loss and soulful reconciliation and nods her in the credits.
This is plainly a story of two people finding themselves of a certain age (don’t you hate those two words put together, certain and age?) who find themselves coming face to face with their younger selves trapped in older bodies. Let’s face it, in our 20s we all do stupid stuff, make crazy decisions and jump to conclusions that, as our characters discover, are all wrong. That being said, and if you believe in fate, then we are destined to do those things to find our way around life. No one gets it right and W. Davis and W. Davis are proof of that.
It is a charming film with moments of good punch lines, good sucker punches and sweet seconds when these characters let down their guard. Ryan and Duchovny make it work and even give it a little rain stick magic as they carry the film on their own with no outside help (pun intended). Turn on the fireplace, cozy up with a soft blanket and a glass of whatever and enjoy their journey together, or is it trip? You decide.
In the end – they missed their connection!