Only a precious three minutes of exterior Venice footage, from the TWA plane flying into the old airport to when Faith and Kate drive off into Tuscany.
That’s why I rented Only You, the 1994 film by Norman Jewison and starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. Of course, I didn’t realize there were only three minutes of Venice bliss; the Netflix sleeve read: “As a child, Faith Corvatch was told she’d marry a man named Damon Bradley. Years later, she receives a call from her fiance’s friend–named Damon Bradley–and sets off for Venice, Italy, to track down her soul mate.” Wouldn’t you have expected more than three minutes in Venice? Yeah yeah, she falls in love in ROME, of all places. But everyone knows you’re supposed to fall in love in Venice.
Ah, but there was that delicious film moment as they’re riding the Alilaguna from the airport to Venice, and they round the cemetery island of San Michele and get their first proper look at Venice’s spires. I always catch my breath when I’m the lucky one on that boat!
Faith and her friend Kate execute the obligatory boat-up-the-Grand-Canal scene as they arrive into the city proper, very reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn in Summertime, except Only You shows the locations in the correct order. (If you’ve seen Summertime, you know that’s one of viewers’ pet peeves about the film: it drives all the Venetophiles bonkers as the palaces and churches are shown in the wrong order, as if the film editor just spliced in whichever palazzo pleased him at the moment.)
There’s also the obligatory gondolier scenes. Faith and Kate see a flotilla of them glide by as the sun glints off the water. Then they see the traghetto crossing at San Moise, and the gondolier at the boat’s stern sure looks like a gondolier I know named Lino. (I wrote a chapter on him titled “Lino’s Livingroom.”) I even watched the movie scene again and froze the screen to see if it really was Lino, but his face was just too pixilated for me to know for sure.
Faith doesn’t fall in love in Venice–or at least not with Damon Bradley. But there’s a sweet moment with her lifelong friend Kate where they seem to fall in love with each other. Faith looks at the parade of palaces, leans back onto Kate’s shoulder, and says of Venice, “Where people come looking for something they can’t find anyplace else.” I remember a week in Venice with my girlfriends where I was in love with both of them, and the lady we rented the apartment from, and the guy who sold us gelato, and the woman who made our coffee, and every gondolier we met. See, you’re supposed to fall in love in Venice. And though Faith’s line about “Looking for something they can’t find anyplace else” is on the trite side, I can attest that in my case, I found all sorts of things in Venice that I didn’t find elsewhere, such as a strength within myself…. but that’s an entirely different story.
Strangely, Faith and Kate’s boat captain announces, “Ecco Danieli,” when they’re still in front of the Salute church. Maybe he was as excited as they were and couldn’t wait till they were actually in front of the Danieli. There may be only three minutes of exterior Venice, but then there’s a longer scene inside the hotel. I guess you could count that as precious Venice film time, but I’ll never in my lifetime be able to afford a night at the Danieli, so I’m just a casual gawker and can’t count Daniele time the same as all the free Venice viewing I get when I’m outside.
Here’s a clip from the film (with maybe two seconds of Venice screen time):