Friday, October 28, 2022

A Chance Encounter: Movie Review





Stay and soak in the beauty of love in Sicily.
A Chance Encounter is an unexpected gem of a romantic dramedy. A film that shines because of its earnestness. And yes, I did have to use that word; Hal likes making references to Oscar Wilde, and the film knows its writers. A sweet story of a musician and a poet that so easily balances the romance and the humour with the reality of grief and fear because it doesn’t need to spell everything out to the audience   2022

Directed by: Alexander Jeffery

Screenplay by: Alexander Jeffery

Starring: Paul Petersen, Andrea von Kampen

Two Americans meet in a small town in Sicily. Josie Day (Andrea von Kampen) is a folk singer with one hit song from years ago. Hal (Paul Petersen) is an aspiring writer on a personal journey to Sicily. She’s by a pier singing her song which Hal recognizes and then asks her to recreate an old black and white photograph he has of the same spot. She tries to ask about its significance, he dodges the question. There’s plenty of time to get to know what brings them here later.

The two have obviously hit it off, enjoying their conversation, and enjoying the local food, wine and sights. This emulates Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise way more than any of the cheesy romances with similar plots and titles, even if it’s not quite as smooth.

It’s a leisurely film that allows the audience to take in the history and natural beauty of Sicily just as our two protagonists are with their poetry and folk songs in the background. Hal is trepidatious about introducing himself as a writer since he knows poetry doesn’t pay the bills and he’s never actually read anything he’s written out loud before. Josie, a stranger who is very quickly becoming much more than that, encourages him to open up to her. Meanwhile she’s using him as inspiration to try and write her next hit song.

Their relationship is effortless. Primarily because nothing is spelled out for the audience, both characters eventually reveal their backstories without forcing their hand, and there’s a relatableness to how they’re approaching life. Hal uses humour when he has to open up and be vulnerable and then he’ll steal glances at Josie when he’s confident in her responses. Josie will casually drop significant pieces of information because she wants to downplay where she’s at in life, but she won’t shy away from confrontation and wears her confidence on her face.

Petersen’s Hal is a lot more natural with the dialogue. His humour is the first thing you see, but he’s also really good at showing what he’s not saying. I knew what he was feeling every minute of the way and he never had to say it out loud. The dialogue does get awkward at times, especially with Josie, but she brings the beautiful singing voice, so I think they can call it even.

A Chance Encounter is a really sweet, enjoyable story of love and friendship filled with poetry and music. It’s like watching two friends fall in love while you just get to sit back and soak in all the beauty. Just like a week in Italy, the end comes too soon, but I think these characters are going to linger with me for awhile.