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All made up with no place to go

JENNIFER Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a single mother working as a maid in a posh New York hotel in order to earn a living for herself and her 10-year-old son. One night she decides to clandestinely try on the clothes of one of the hotel guests. That evening, as she is wearing a designer outfit and oozing high-society glamour, she meets Christopher Hall (Ralph Fiennes), a senatorial candidate from an influential family.
From here on, the Cinderella story is obvious, and we see the invisible servant girl turning into a shining star. Despite the fact that the film shows stereotype after stereotype, the filmmakers do please you every now and again with a joke or a twist in the plot. The best punch lines are delivered by Marisa's son, Ty, who has great insight into the world of grown-ups and is not afraid to speak out.


J Lo as a modern Cinderella.
photo: Italfilm

Maid in Manhattan

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Bob Hoskins,
Directed by: Wayne Wang,
Running time: 103 min.,
Rating: 5 out of 10

JENNIFER Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a single mother working as a maid in a posh New York hotel in order to earn a living for herself and her 10-year-old son. One night she decides to clandestinely try on the clothes of one of the hotel guests. That evening, as she is wearing a designer outfit and oozing high-society glamour, she meets Christopher Hall (Ralph Fiennes), a senatorial candidate from an influential family.

From here on, the Cinderella story is obvious, and we see the invisible servant girl turning into a shining star. Despite the fact that the film shows stereotype after stereotype, the filmmakers do please you every now and again with a joke or a twist in the plot. The best punch lines are delivered by Marisa's son, Ty, who has great insight into the world of grown-ups and is not afraid to speak out.

All the adult characters are intent on teaching viewers lessons on life and morality - how you can make it from ghetto if you only try hard enough, how you have to risk everything to make your dreams come true, how we should not judge others by their social status. In fact, the movie is so politically correct and family friendly, it makes you wonder whether Hollywood is ever going to shoot a serious, unsentimental movie again.

Ralph Fiennes is far too sophisticated for the romantic character he portrays, particularly as it is hard to watch him without remembering his roles in Schindler's List and Red Dragon. In most of the scenes, J Lo makes you wish that she would keep her acting skills for her music videos. However, the filmmakers should win an award for their wisdom in not selecting any of her songs for the film's soundtrack.

Why director Wayne Wang ventured into the realm of romantic comedy remains a mystery. Perhaps his fans are going to have to wait a bit longer for another great film like Smoke or its follow-up, Blue in the Face.

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