Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Forces of Nature

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 1999 at 12:00 AM

You know the story: The trailer’s taken care of that, as trailers do these days, careful to reveal every twist in the plot but the ending.

The main protagonist of a wild bachelor party whose prize – a feisty stripper – is the cause of his grandfather’s heart attack, Ben (Ben Affleck) sets out on a journey to Savannah to wed the woman of his dreams. But is she the one? And are there any true love stories left at the end of this disheveled century? "I’ve never been attracted to your grandmother," granddad tells Ben in the hour of truth. "She looks like Tolstoy."

Confused, upset and anxious, a little apprehensive but eminently safe, Ben is subjected to a test when Sarah (Sandra Bullock) walks into his life, unbound and extraordinary. Poor, unassuming Ben, with his quiet, inconspicuous clothes and his quiet, inconspicuous laptop on which he’s trying to compose his withering wedding vows! What is he to do? Taste the rainbow, feel the forces of the hurricane, unleash the demons of adventure buried deep inside his yuppie soul, or say "no, thank you" and crawl home?

Let’s not deceive ourselves: This is a fairy tale and the prince – inconspicuous and unassuming as he may be – will live happily ever after with the princess. Like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Forces of Nature takes no chances with the sacred institution of marriage or the myth of everlasting love. What sets it apart, however, from the romantic comedy’s slavery to the text is its extravagant and stylish look.

As Ben and Sarah struggle to find their way home, the camera plunges from dizzying heights into the depths of a storm with magic anger, as translucent, diamond-shaped raindrops fall from the sheltering sky. And as the lovers stand still inside a hurricane of rose petals, they look like angels lost on the forking paths of a demented Garden of Eden.

When, in the end, Ben makes the "right" choice, we’re not too disappointed. After all, we’ve known all along that Ben is a safe man and – through no special fault of his own – a fool.

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