Home > Reviews > REVIEW: Only You (1994)

REVIEW: Only You (1994)

Only You (1994)Directed by: Norman Jewison
Produced by: Robert N. Fried, Norman Jewison, Charles Mulvehill, Cary Woods
Written by: Diane Drake
Edited by: Stephen E. Rivkin
Cinematography by: Sven Nykvist
Music by: Rachel Portman
Starring: Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey, Jr., Bonnie Hunt, Joaquim de Almeida, Fisher Stevens, Billy Zane, Siobhan Fallon, John Benjamin Hickey, Tammy Minoff, Adam LeFevre
Year: 1994


I’ve never seen this movie before recently, though I was completely aware of its existence, as it’s been in my mom’s collection since I was a kid. I was never very interested in seeing it at the time because it was a “chick flick” romantic comedy, and I was a boy and not having any of that (though I made plenty of exceptions at the time to justify calling me a hypocrite). Through a number of circumstances, however, my mom ended up buying the movie a second time – a habit she has because, like her son, she has a very large library of movies and sometimes raids the bargain bins, but, unlike her son, she doesn’t keep tabs of which ones she already owns very well. As a result, it’s not abnormal for my sister and I to come visit now and then and point this out to her, and, because the movies are opened, they can’t be returned, either, so we end up taking the copies off her hands, regardless of whether we really wanted the movie in the first place.

Only You (1994) - Roman Holiday reference

This is how I came to own a copy of The Breakfast Club, which I did want to see, but it’s also how I came to own Sleepless in Seattle, a movie I actually don’t have a very high opinion of, but, you know, what the hell. My sister usually gets these movies because she has more overlap in movie taste with my mom, but also because she lives in the same city, but this past Mother’s Day, we ended up splitting the booty. This is how I came to own The Pelican Brief, The General’s Daughter, the Ronald Reagan movie This Is the Army, Grumpy Old Men (the only one of these I’d ever seen before ownership), and this movie – Only You. So, no, I’m not reviewing this movie because the two stars recently appeared together in a Marvel movie. That’s just a coincidence!

Only You (1994) - Marisa Tomei

So, yes, I had no idea what this movie was about beyond the fact that Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr. were going to be falling in love at some point in his movie, likely living happily ever after. I had no idea that this movie was basically somewhat of a fantasy film, though. It opens on two kids playing with a Ouija board and the girl, Faith, receiving a cryptic message: “Damon Bradley.” After a visit to a carnival gypsy confirms this to be tied to her future true love, the film jumps forward 16 years to the then-present day of 1993, where Faith now looks like Marisa Tomei, is a teacher at a Catholic school, and is engaged to a podiatrist named Dwayne, who is obviously not going to be her true love because, as a podiatrist who is also not named Damon Bradley, he cannot possibly be in a prolonged relationship with her – just talk about nerdy foot doctor things.

Only You (1994) - Robert Downey, Jr.

Faith is obviously not very satisfied with her life, wallowing in old romance films, despite her friends’ admiration for the very large diamond ring her fiancé bought her. One of these friends is Kate, who is married to Faith’s brother, Larry, the other kid from the intro. And – wouldn’t you know it? – the two of them are having marital issues with a suspected affair going on. So, yeah, Kate also thinks she totally knows Faith should recognize when she’s got a good thing by contrast. A few days before her wedding, however, Faith answers a phone call on behalf of her fiancé, and who should be on the other line than none other than the proverbial Damon Bradley, headed out to the romantic Venice, Italy. He hangs up before Faith can get a word in edgewise about their destinies, however, and so she heads off to Venice, with the struggling Kate in tow, completely blowing off her wedding plans in the process.

Now, you might rightfully assume Robert Downey, Jr. plays this Damon Bradley, but I’m actually pleased to say that it’s a bit more complicated than that. The movie has some fun with the concept, and this playfulness definitely saves the movie from being outright derivative. The fact that this resolution is the sole purpose of this movie existing once the two characters meet, however, is disappointing, as there isn’t even any kind of direct closure to Faith and the podiatrist’s relationship, for example. He has maybe two scenes and that’s it. You never see or hear from him again. At least we do get some closure for Kate and her husband, although most of her husband’s development takes place off screen, with occasional checkins to see how he’s dealing with her absence. You never do really get an answer to what’s really going on and why.

Only You (1994) - Bonnie Hunt, Joaquim de Almeida

I did like Tomei and Downey’s performances, though, despite not particularly caring for their characters. They’re both charming and all that, which is necessary for this type of film to fly. However, Faith is, as Kate rightfully points out, completely out of her mind with this absurd quest, and though the movie rightfully believes this to be the case, too, it never really calls her out for her unpleasantness, unintentional as it may be. Downey’s character, whose character, a women’s fashion shoe expert named Peter Wright, only serves to offer up another aptly named character to Tomei’s lead, is a bit of a cad who exploits her eccentricities in the name of love at first sight. It’s old fashioned fun, sure, but I just didn’t care for it, and he is similarly portrayed as being someone who’s just crazy enough to match her in a battle of whose more clinically romantic. Aw. I could have perhaps looked past it more if there was cleverer, funnier writing, but it just kind of coasts on its old school charms without realizing it needs some of its own personality and wit.

Only You (1994) - Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey, Jr.

This is a harmless but bland film that will certainly entertain a certain demographic of people who like this sort of thing, and, honestly, that’s just fine. Even Roger Ebert went against the grain and gave the film a respectable 3.5 / 4 stars upon its release, and I’m not going to feel the need to steal that away from you if you like it, too. Just be forewarned that if you haven’t, this is hardly going to blow you away. This is a fluffy, hyper romanticized movie – from its score to its cinematography and down to the very premise upon which all of it is based. Personally, I don’t see myself taking this off my shelf again any time soon unless someone comes over and talks me into it, or if I’m feeling sick and want an easy movie like this to soothe me. But, even then, I can just watch something like You’ve Got Mail, a romantic comedy I did buy for myself and which, for some reason, strikes me has having far more personality and inherent likability than most other films of its ilk. (See, Mom? I can do these kinds of guilty pleasures, too!)

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 2 / 5

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