THE FILM: When in Rome (2010)
THE PAIRING: Beth (Kristen Bell) and Nick (Josh Duhamel)
THE MOMENT: “The only spell I’m under… is yours.”
There’s a saying that encourages “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” In many ways, When in Rome embraces that sentiment. In a lighthearted, fluffy kind of way, When in Rome is a charming sentimental piece of chick flick magic. Given that I recently rewatched it, I thought revisiting it for today’s spotlight seemed like a fun idea.
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The story is simple and plays almost as a modern fairytale. It’s about a driven New York businesswoman, Beth (played by Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell), who learns her little sister is about to be married following a two-week whirlwind of a romance. This happens just as Beth is in the middle of a career changing curator job. Now, Beth has to travel to Rome for 48 hours where cell phone reception is virtually impossible. While there, Beth meets Nick, the best man who not only becomes intrigued by Beth but at his disposal is a working cell phone which is, of course, catnip for the workaholic Beth. Jaded by love, Beth is afraid to open her heart to love which is why she struggles to take her father’s advice about opening up.
When in Rome – The Lead-In
After seeing Nick in what she assumes is a lovers tryst, Beth takes her already tipsy self out to the fountain with a bottle of champagne. By herself, she kicks off her heels, dips her feet into the water and makes a defiant choice. She plucks five coins out of the fountain of love believing each of the people who’ve tossed coins in the fountain are fools for love. About to be caught, Beth gathers the coins and dashes away from the fountain.
She returns home where all five of the men follow her around New York. They each try and prove their respective love for her through paintings, grand gestures of magic and obsessive behavior bordering on stalking. One of the five men who follow Beth around is Nick. Once Beth learns the myth behind what her removing the coins meant, she is instructed on what to do to break the spell; she must return each coin to the men. Resolute, she makes plans to do just this. Four out of five coins are returned, leaving only Nick’s remaining.
Before she gives his back, she has one last thing to tell Nick. Calling him, she thanks him for making her believe in love again. Confused, Nick is left asking “what does that mean?” to a dead signal (Beth has already hung up). Hesitating only a single nanosecond, Nick sets out running as lightning flashes overhead.
At the gallery (for her big work event), Beth returns to the task and sets about returning the four other coins to their owners. Once done, Beth prepares to return the one man’s coin she is most reluctant to part with. As fate would have it, the coin tumbles out of her grasp, and down a long path towards the door, where just at that moment, Nick strides through. Bending he picks up the coin…
The Romantic Moment
Rising from picking up the coin, Nick sees Beth running after the small object. They lock eyes and the camera flashes to Beth’s disappointed face.
Slowing, she inhales, taking a breath from chasing down the symbol of a lost future, and edges closer to Nick. “So, I guess it’s over now.”
Puzzled, Nick asks, “Is that really what you want?”
In a selfless gesture, with a small hint of a smile, softly she replies, “It doesn’t matter what I want. You’ve got your will back.”
Not about to be prevented from keeping and fighting for the woman he’s fallen in love with, he proceeds. “Ever since I saw you in that fountain, something… something changed in me. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t do anything without thinking about you.” He tells her he doesn’t know what’s going on with him, but referencing Beth’s odd behavior, he asks, “what is going on with you? You seem to think that all these guys are under some crazy spell and that I’m one of them, but I’m not.”
Finally, he lays his heart on the line, “This is real, OK? And I ran all the way up 5th Avenue in a lightning storm.” Referring to the fact that he was once struck by lightning during a football game, he tries to further convince her of how real their love is. “…because I wanted to tell you…”
Still a distance apart, with a happy smile of relief, Beth breathlessly interrupts him. “You love me?”
Tilting his head, Nick states, “I never said I loved you.”
Keeping their exchange light and trying to contain her joy, Beth retracts her question. “You didn’t. No, you don’t.”
But of course, Nick came with every intention to confess just that. “I just never said it. You said it, and I wanted to say it, but…”
The smile still affixed, she tries to contain her excitement, “OK, you go. You say it. Well, say it if you want to say it.”
Finding closing the distance between them, Nick begins with purpose and confesses. “The only spell that I’m under… is yours. I’m in love with you, Beth.”
Happiness is theirs as they lean together, Nick kissing Beth sweetly and with genuine affection as he has his coin in his hands. Their moment is bliss and without the spell hanging over her, Beth gives in to the love being the real deal. But as fate would have it, this happy scene isn’t quite the end of Beth and Nick’s happy ending… you’ll just have to watch When in Rome to discover how that happily-ever-after comes about.
Have you seen When in Rome? What contemporary romantic comedies do you most enjoy watching time and again? Share your comments down below. As always, I’d love to read them.
Photos: Touchstone Pictures
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