A movie about fate. Something as trivial as not making it through the doors of a subway train (as happens to Gwyneth Paltrow's character) can totally change your life.
The technique of showing both versions of her life was executed very well. As Paltrow is hurrying down the stairs an young girl going up gets in her way for just a second. And she misses the train and stands on the platform looking frustrated. Jump back a few seconds and this time the little girl's mother pulls the child out of the way and Paltrow makes the train. Cut to inside the train and you can see Paltrow through the window as the train pulls away. Cut to Paltrow taking a seat on the train. From there, the movie runs pretty much in chronological sequence, jumping between significant events in each of the two versions of her life. They use a change in hairstyle to help the audience keep track of which life is which, and it's a very effective device.
There's a lot of overlap between the two lives, such as a sandwich shop where she works in one life and buys lunch in the other. And a half-dozen times she's in the same room in both lives. For example, running the PR of a restaurant opening in one life and waiting tables at that opening in the other. They always have a cut in between seeing her in one setting and then the other. This isn't a time travel movie where she can bump into herself. These are two totally separate lives. That simple movie-making device, the cut, is used effectively to show that a significant event in one life can be part of the trivial routine in the other.
The movie itself is about love and deceit. She starts out with a not-so-bright boyfriend who is cheating on her. In one life she catches him in the act early on. In the other she catches hints but never enough to nail him down and he's able to weasel out of it. Two fairly standard stories. But by juxtaposing them in chronological order, we see exposition and motivations spelled out in one version that help us recognize what's going on in the characters' heads in the other. There is one clever plot twist in one of the stories that keeps you guessing right until the end.
The acting was solid throughout. I liked Gwyneth's accent (I'm not an expert, but it sounded good to me) and I thought Tripplehorn had a strong performance. The script seemed to balance all of the roles around the Paltrow character(s) very well. The not-so-bright cheating boyfriend had very believable human faults.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, rates Matinee and Dinner.
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