Sunday, May 3, 2020

Soulmates and Timeless Love in "Chances Are" (1989) and "Only You" (1994)

This post is written for The Love Goes On Blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog II.

There's a certain yearning in all of us, that hope that there is a soulmate out there somewhere, that special person meant just for us. As a single woman who's never been married or even in a relationship, I dream sometimes about the right guy coming along, my soulmate. I don't know the history of soulmates, but I do know that our entertainment and literature perpetuate the belief, true or not, and my heart always responds to it, to that belief that someday I'll look at someone and he'll look at me, and we'll just Zing, in the words of Drac from Hotel Transylvania.

Several years ago, probably 4 or 5 years now, I was on a serious Robert Downey, Jr. bender. It lasted a couple of months, and I watched oh, so many of his movies. During that time I discovered that he performed in two separate films having to do with soulmates and predestined encounters. The discovery floored me, first because I didn't realize how intensely interested people were in souls and soulmates in the late 80s and mid-90s, and second, that one actor could star in so many films all dealing with fate, souls, and predestination.

Chances Are (1989)

Chances Are (1989)


Cybill Shepherd    Robert Downey, Jr.    Ryan O'Neal    Mary Stuart Masterson

Chances Are from 1989 is the heartwrenching story of a young couple celebrating their first anniversary and the husband dies in a hit-and-run. He's reincarnated into RDJ and fate plays a hand in bringing the couple back together again, at least for a time. It's a beautiful sentiment. When RDJ's character remembers his soul's previous life, I'm rooting so hard for him and his "wife." I don't care that he's twenty-four years younger than her. It doesn't matter one whit in the long run because they are destined to be together, and RDJ and actress Cybill Shepherd play the story so convincingly. The chemistry between them is dynamic, which should come as no surprise since it's RDJ and he's loaded with charisma.

Robert Downey Jr and Cybill Shepherd in Chances Are (1989)

The ending is hard and I feel like the writers dropped the ball a little bit. I don't want to give too much away, but the concept behind the film is that souls circle through lives together, in the same group, which means you're predestined to be with one of the numerous souls in your inner circle. RDJ's character should have never remembered his past life, but thanks to one of the "angels" in heaven during his reincarnation process, he wasn't given an inoculation to wipe his memory. Instead, the audience gets to cheer for the reuniting of these two souls and their love story, only to have it ripped away from us at the end. 

It's tragic, which is why I usually only watch the film up to the last twenty minutes. BUT, I do rewatch it on a semi-regular basis because my heart rewrites the ending to what it should be, with the souls of this couple whose marriage was cut so tragically short, being joined together again. A miracle and a blessing, as it were. For me, that is the proper ending because, in my heart of hearts, I want to believe in two souls that are meant to be together.

Only You (1994)

Only You (1994)


Marisa Tomei    Robert Downey, Jr.    Bonnie Hunt    Billy Zane    Joaquim De Almeida

Now, on to why I love, and I truly mean LOVE, the film Only You from 1994. It doesn't make the same mistake as Chances Are, and doesn't go into the concept of reincarnation, just the concept of predestined soulmates.

The adorable, pixie-like performance by Marisa Tomei is heart-stoppingly memorable. When she is in her tweens, Marisa's character, Faith, and her closest friends visit a carnival where Faith has her palm read. The gypsy woman is impossibly precise about Faith's soulmate being predestined and that his name is Damon Bradley. Gullible munchkin that she is, Faith believes the gypsy woman, not realizing that her older brother bribed the gypsy woman to tell that particular fortune. Ruined for any other man, Faith has traveled through life as a hopeless romantic, even down to her career teaching classic romantic literature, all while aching and hoping that Damon Bradley would eventually show up on her doorstep.

After urging from her family and friends, Faith half-heartedly agrees to marry the podiatrist she has been dating for years, and while trying on his mother's wedding dress which truly does make her look like a cupcake, the phone rings. She answers and who should be on the other end of the line, but, bingo, Damon Bradley, a former friend of her fiance. Before he hangs up she manages to sneak out of him that he's in Italy, so Faith boards a plane for Italy with her sister-in-law Kate (Bonnie Hunt). Enter RDJ as the infamous Damon Bradley. The sparks fly immediately (again, no surprise there, especially since Marisa and RDJ were an item for a while). I could go farther into the story, but won't because if I do I'll let important, nay crucial, plot points slip and that would ruin the film for new viewers.

Only You (1994)

Faith learns on her journey that destiny is not about the name, but the person. And when she zings with RDJ it shouldn't matter what his character's name is. Now, this is a love story I can fully get behind because it ends so very happy and is ADORABLE from start to finish. There's an intensity to Faith that's so appealing. Her desire to find the one, her disappointment in thinking he doesn't exist, and her willingness to settle for second-best are all a charming combination of enchanting and tragic. In the end, she chooses RDJ because she loves HIM, not some random name that a gypsy lady foretold when she was a kid.

Does it make their connection as soulmates any less authentic? Absolutely not! In fact, whenever I'm feeling in a particularly romantic frame of mind, I'll pull Only You off my shelf. It reminds me that people click, that chemistry happens, and that true love can exist, whether it happens in that first glance or takes years to develop.

I've been watching a lot of films and television lately that have to do with finding that one person that is ideal for us, who fits us and who we fit. When I found the above quotation, I knew it was the perfect ending to this blog post. I hope you'll take the time to watch both Chances Are and Only You. I recommend them both, but especially Only You. I come away from that movie a little starry-eyed and it's nice to feel that way sometimes. It's nice to believe in soulmates and that true love that never dies. 

Please take the time to visit The Love Goes On Blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog II.

2 replies:

  1. Chances Are (1989) is super-charming! Very underrated movie. I still need to see Only You (1994).

    1. It really is very cute; a good chemistry combo between RDJ and Cybill Shepherd. If you do watch Only You, I hope you enjoy it! ❤


Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!