Do you ever get the feeling that what's happening to you now isn't happening to you for the first time? Do you ever get the feeling that what's happening to you now isn't happening to you for the first time? That's the feeling I got while watching Henry Jaglom's Deja Vu--that's right, Henry Jaglom's Deja Vu. Jaglom may want us to have that feeling: The movie's about the way we can sometimes meet someone and feel like we've known him or her our whole lives. But the director doesn't seem to realize that 1) we've already seen this kind of movie dozens of times and 2) having the characters repeat every line at least once doesn't contribute to the mood he's after. It just doesn't contribute to the mood. Victoria Foyt, who looks like a supermodel and acts like one too, stars as Dana, a Los Angeleno who's been engaged to the same guy for so long that she's begun to feel disengaged. Then, on a shopping trip to Jerusalem, she meets a beautifully mysterious older woman who tells her a long story above love found and love lost. The woman disappears, but not before handing Dana a ruby pin that can't help but remind us of a certain pair of ruby slippers. Dana doesn't know it yet, but she has slipped over into the adult version of Oz--an enchanted land where true love lasts forever and some things are just meant to be. A chance meeting with an English architect in Dover becomes...the chance of a lifetime. As in a Kieslowski movie (Red, White or Blue, for example), Deja Vu is bristling with intuitions, premonitions and coincidences. Love at first sight, it turns out, has an element of second sight about it. After tearing herself away from the English architect in Dover, whom should Dana meet in London but...the English architect? Actually, it's better (worse?) than that. They, along with their significant others, are guests in the same home. Fate? Hack screenwriting? You be the judge. What I'm fairly certain does qualify as hack screenwriting are all the conversations that go something like this: "I knew you were going to say that." "I knew you were going to say that." "I knew you were going to say that."
I'm being a little rough on Deja Vu, not because I'm a hopeless anti-romantic but because I'm a hopeless romantic; I like to see this kind of movie done well. Jaglom, who wrote the screenplay with Foyt (his wife), seems to be after a modern-day Brief Encounter, that much-cherished British film. Instead, he's come up with something even sappier than Sleepless in Seattle. Of course, Sleepless in Seattle had Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, whereas Deja Vu has Stephen Dillane, with his Phil Collins haircut, and Foyt, who walks around Jerusalem, Paris and London looking very, very beautiful. If only we were as smitten with her as Jaglom is. And if only Jaglom had the technique to turn it all into some enchanted evening.