Countdown to love

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 January, 2012, 12:00am


For many people, New Year's Eve is the most exciting day of the year. Mix that excitement with the energy and dazzling lights of New York and you've got the setting for director Garry Marshall's film, New Year's Eve.

The movie celebrates themes of love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts through the intertwining stories of a group of people. Some of their experiences mean characters cross paths only briefly; others intersect completely.

The one unifying thread is that everything on screen happens over one day - before midnight - when the traditional Times Square ball drops down a pole - on cue - as New Year's Eve becomes New Year's Day. An estimated million people will cram into Times Square to celebrate the moment. More than one billion people are expected to watch the traditional countdown. And that's where the film starts, as Claire (Hilary Swank), who is responsible for ensuring the ball drop happens without a hitch, is making the final arrangements for midnight.

As well as Swank, Marshall's huge star cast includes Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glee's Lea Michele, Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer and singer-turned-actor Jon Bon Jovi.

Berry plays a nurse helping cancer sufferer De Niro, whose dream is to be in Times Square at midnight. Bon Jovi is desperate to reunite with his former girlfriend, Heigl, while a grumpy Kutcher is stuck in a lift with singer Michele ... and that's just for starters.

Marshall was keen to reunite with screenwriter Katherine Fugate after their hit 2010 rom-com Valentine's Day, and focus on New Year's Eve, life's 'great reset button'.

'It's the perfect opportunity to take stock of things, think about the mistakes of the past year and about how maybe you can do better. A time to be thankful for what you have.

'It's also a fun, exciting, wonderful time, full of anticipation - and yes, some craziness. Mostly it's about hope, when everything seems possible, if you're willing to take another chance.'

Fugate adds: 'We wanted a story of first love and one of forgiveness, as well as stories about taking a risk, letting things go, revisiting an old flame, making amends, having a baby, starting fresh ... with love being the mitigating force in all of them.'

Producers Mike Karz and Wayne Rice also worked on Valentine's Day. Karz says: 'We were looking for characters that move in directions you don't necessarily see coming, or interact with characters who may not be ones you expect. Katherine [Fugate] is so skilful - not only in creating these individuals, but also in interweaving storylines in a natural way.'

Rice says: 'It's designed so the entire sequence takes place in one day. The third act of a movie is often about a ticking clock; in this case, there's an actual clock that triggers the action for everyone.'

New Year's Eve opens Thursday