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  Just Like Heaven Ghost Part Two?
Year: 2005
Director: Mark Waters
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, Donal Logue, Dina Waters, Ben Shenkman, Jon Heder, Ivana Milicevic, Caroline Aaron, Rosalind Chao, Ron Canada, Willie Garson, Gabriel Made, William Caploe, Shulie Cowen, Billy Beck
Genre: Comedy, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Elizabeth (Reese Witherspoon) is a junior doctor hoping to be promoted at work, but the rivalry for the position is tough, which results in her working round the clock in an attempt to prove herself worthy. But it's not all about the job for her, as she genuinely cares about the people she is helping which is why her superior offers her the promotion that night. Mind you, she has put in an over day-long shift, one of many, so it's not as if she hasn't earned it, and she's earned a chance to have a rest as well. Her sister Abby (Dina Waters) has invited her over to meet a man - but things don't work out...

That's because of a mishap that occurs while Elizabeth is driving to her sister's home which sets in motion one of those high concept plots so beloved of romantic comedy filmmakers. Just Like Heaven was loosely based on a French novel that had amassed a cult following before the movie was released, but the movie went on to build a minor but signficant fanbase among those who welcomed its sweetness in spite of its contrived and predictable plotting. Actually, it could be that knowledge that everything is going to work out that provided much of the appeal; although there has been a tragedy, it's nothing that can't be sorted.

Eventually, anyway, which sees the cue for an out of his element Mark Ruffalo to make his entrance, here as a slobbish singleton who is apartment hunting, and finds exactly what he's looking for, in more ways than one. Except he doesn't know that because it's the romcom law that our future couple will not get along on their initial meeting, but here you can understand that ill-feeling when each think that the other is in their home. Ruffalo's David has just settled down when he is interrupted by Elizabeth demanding to know what he's doing there, a question he could equally ask her, so there's a misunderstanding here for a start.

From then on, Elizabeth begins to appear at inopportune moments in David's day, and the fact that they're like chalk and cheese doesn't endear one to the other, but hey, what do you know? Once they have established that only David can see her, they work out that she is in fact a ghost. Soon Elizabeth's faulty memory of her past life returns in dribs and drabs, and she recalls being in a car crash that night she was supposed to be headed over to her sister's, but there must be something keeping her hanging around even if she's believed to be dead. Of course, we're not getting the whole story, and the rest of this is about the thrown-together couple setting aside their differences.

And sorting out the mystery of Elizabeth's life - you could make a good novelty detective series out of this pair, something that didn't occur to anyone here as they were too intent on having the characters fall in love. In spite of the sadness of a story that may feature the premature death of a promising young woman, the filmmakers resisted having anything too horrible happen, and while they aimed for the tearducts in a handful of scenes, the point of this was to leave you feeling uplifted. Therefore the theme of unfulfilled lives finally taking a turn for the better is chiefly what concerns us, as David and his new "imaginary" girlfriend find that they are good for each other against the odds in a more conventional fashion than might appear at face value. Witherspoon and Ruffalo were very decent together, lifting what could have been sappy into the realms of the heartwarming. No, you probably won't take it hugely seriously, but it was nice enough. Although it would have been nicer without those poor cover versions on the soundtrack. Other music by Rolfe Kent.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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