Maid in Manhattan

World Cup fever has taken its hold and in the spirit, it was important that my next review had a strong World Cup link. Therefore, what better film to review than 2002’s ‘Maid in Manhattan’. Y’know that famous World Cup themed film. Set in the spiritual home of football, New York, and starring the actress most associated with the beautiful game, Jennifer Lopez. Yes, Jennifer Lopez (who sung a verse in this year’s WC official song.) In reality, my girlfriend decided it had been a footballing overload and this was a suitable remedy. Think yourselves lucky though, I nearly wrote a very football-themed piece on Pitbull’s film debut in ‘Epic’, thanks to his involvement in this year’s official track.

(To the review) ‘Maid in Manhattan’ was a reasonably enjoyable experience. Lopez plays the struggling, single mother of a near-genius son and through some spectacularly coincidental occurrences, finds herself in contact with a pretty, “playboy” politician. The story is nice and is pleasant to watch without excelling any higher than that. Themes of social divides, snobbery and pride in one’s self are all handled in as serious a manner as you would expect from a rom-com.

Lopez’ character is strong, ambitious and leads every scene. You grow to admire and support Lopez’ character in how she handles her under-appreciation at work and the happiness of her son at home. The film makes you want only the best for its lead and it is a testament to the film’s production, acting and writing that you do.

The twists and turns may be easy to see coming, but the film manages not to loose its way as the film comes to climax. Lopez stays strong, independent and proud of herself, whilst the plot steers clear of becoming sensationalised. In most part, the final sequence of events stays plausible and real. The film is still a ‘Cinderella’ story for modern times, but the film succeeds in being more indulgent than tacky.

One attribute that may surprise is the choice of romantic male lead. For the early 00’s, it was not Hugh Grant that was chosen, nor Matthew McConaughey, not even Richard Gere. The actor that was chosen is the new face of ‘M’ in ‘Bond’ franchise. Ralph Fiennes, the actor who played Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in ‘Schindler’s List’. Voldemort in a romantic comedy. Most recently known for Gustave in Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. However, he was not as odd as I anticipated. He had both hair and a nose, and what a lovely nose it was. 12 years ago this choice may have raised few eyebrows and putting aside his career-defining roles, Fiennes isn’t totally out of place. Lacking some charisma, Fiennes is nice in his interactions with Lopez and acts suitably nonchalant in contrast to his ever-fussing assistant (Stanley Tucci).

The film is a pleasant rom-com and an enjoyable watch. However, the only thing it ‘maid’ me want was more football. ★ ★ 1/2

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