I had the opportunity to check out the performance of Virgin’s new Pendolino train last night on the way from London Euston to Liverpool. From the inside it doesn’t look like anything special – it’s perhaps slightly more spacious than their usual Voyager train, and slightly more high tech. On the move, though, it feels noticeably faster, especially when tilting around corners. The tilting wasn’t unpleasant or nauseous, so thankfully I don’t think the Pendolino is about to go the way of the vomit-inducing APT. This is a good thing because I managed to get from Euston to Liverpool in about two and a half hours; quicker, in fact, than it takes to get from Cambridge to Oxford. So, well done to Virgin!

One of the passengers sitting nearby had one of those portable DVD players with her for the journey. It wasn’t a svelte model by any measure – the screen was about the size of one you might find on an economy class airplane seatback, and the unit itself was probably the same volume as my iBook – in other words, incredibly chunky. Since I was sitting behind her, there was really no need to get involved in any kind of laptop ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ competition but I did take a peek at what she was watching. It was hard to make out, but when I glanced over I had the impression I could see John Cusack. An hour later and my suspicions were confirmed – not only was it John Cusack, but the movie was that pile of excreble mediocrity, Serendipity. I slumped back in my seat, disappointed in humanity in general, and then cheered up after listening to the third Hitchhiker’s episode on my iPod.

2 Replies to “Pendolino”

  1. Oooh how dare you? But then,
    hHere is the mixed review I wrote when I saw it …

    Watching ‘Serendipity’ after that three hour opus* was bound to be a let down. I’m happy to report that it still had a spark despite it’s obvious derivativeness. This is film as Aibodog … safe, reliable, predictable. This is another high-concept rom-com in the style of ‘One Fine Day’ and ‘Martha meet…’, and I’ve always had a soft spot for those. John Cusack is of course playing his usual self … but there is something comforting about that, reliable. Kate Beckinsale manages to overcome Pearl Harbor embarrassment producing a sparky little rom-com showing … this is the girl we fell in love with watching ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. This is a Nora Ephron film without sentimentality (a good thing).

    A few criticisms. Cusack and Beckinsale don’t spend enough time on screen together even though there is an obvious chemistry there. It looks wrong that the twin towers are missing from the scenes set in the past.

    But a major flaw is in the motivations of the characters. Much of the time we have little sense of desperation … for this to have worked we needed to feel that perhaps this is the last chance either of them have to be happy. This would have been brought out in the scenes when they are with their respective fiancés … the feeling of making do which made Meg Ryan’s search in ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ so important. Beckinsale doesn’t seem too unhappy in her relationship with Chris in the Morning on K-Ber, just a bit overlooked (and we ought to wonder what kind of heartless wench would still dump the guy who travelled all the way across the country to find her and traipsed about a much of hotels in the freezing cold looking for her). Cusack’s character seems to brush off his wedding a bit too easily … making him seem a touch unsympathetic. The only thing which seems to be wrong with his fiancé is blandness, as far as we can tell. Instead we just have the story of two people going to extra-ordinary lengths just because they fancy each other a bit. But on reflections this could be the one message the film has in it’s favour. Never to let those tiny moments of romance pass you by.

    * That would be Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

  2. Well, I didn’t think it was *that* bad. But after the heights of Grosse Point Blank and Being John Malkovich, you’ve got to admit that Serendepity is pretty average. It wasn’t a terrible film, after all. I don’t remember much about it any more apart from the fact that I became incandescent with rage over the unending chain of ridiculously improbable events during the movie that conspired to keep Cusack and the girl apart. I suppose they would call it ‘serendipity’ – I’d call it annoying.

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