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"Maid In Manhattan"

"Maid in Manhattan"... a fairy tale romance.

MADE IN Manhattan or Maid In Manhattan? Either way you look at it, the film, produced by Revolution Studios/ Red Om Films and distributed by Columbia Pictures, is one fairy tale romance, as old as the hills, but never really ceasing to warm the cockles of the heart. Because everybody loves a happy ending! An ending, which is a triumph of true love that also has this ordinary, but intelligent woman who is just a maid, winning the respect and love of a blue blooded scion, a senator in the making!

Romantic comedies are so endlessly appealing, both to those looking back on their own experiences and those looking forward to it, that Hollywood keeps churning them out. The elements are very simple _ the brave but vulnerable heroine, the crude but good at heart best friend, the good looking hero bowled over by the heroine's charms, the second half complication and the happily ever after ending.

In all such stories, there is never a doubt what is going to happen. But yet the skill of the artistes and charm of the story remind us that there is more to art than just new ideas. Jennifer Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a maid in a luxurious hotel in Manhattan. She has a cute 10 year old son Ty (Tyler Garcia Posey) who likes making speeches and is a Nixon aficionado, an unreliable ex-husband, a mother who tells her not to dream of being anything but a maid, and a garrulous best friend Stephanie (Marissa Matrone) who wants her to apply for the post of a manager.

One day, while cleaning the suite of a rich socialite/ businesswoman, Caroline Lane (Natasha Richardson), her friend convinces her to try out the lady's 5,000-dollar suit they are supposed to return. And the next thing she knows is that she is face to face with the handsome Senator in the making, Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes), who thinks she is the woman staying in the suite. Chris is struck by love and pursues her, which naturally becomes an issue complicated by her true status in life. Of course, all that could have been avoided if Marisa had told him the truth at the start. But then this movie would never have been made.

Marisa makes for an appealing heroine _ loved by her son and her co-workers _ she is loyal, practical, hardworking and efficient. She wants to do more with her life, but does not go about it in an aggressive manner. Just as Chris wants to do more, but is so charming that he makes politicians look like nice guys. Everything is at the fairy tale level, which also means that the audience is not allowed to dwell on harsh realities such as what exactly Chris would do after he wins the election and whether Marisa could become manager after she gets fired.

But then, her performance is so convincing that you would have no difficulty in believing that she is indeed from the working class. Tyler as Marisa's son is very convincing and so very cute that you want him to get what he wants. He looks a lot like Jennifer too, which makes it excellent casting as well. Stanley Tucci as Chris's political advisor provides the comic moments and that typically provides the feel good parts when love is being tested. The role of the head butler played by Bob Hoskins is very dignified _ and lives up to his motto: "It's how well we rise from the fall that matters."


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