What happens when two former lovers get stranded together?


“What Happens Later” comes to the M.V. Film Center on Friday, Nov. 10. This rom-com stars director Meg Ryan as Willa and David Duchovny as Bill. What’s more important is the snowstorm that leaves them both stranded, and, wouldn’t you know it, they bump into each other and end up spending the night reliving old memories.

Rom-com icon Ryan has already starred in “You’ve Got Mail,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” Duchovny is known for “The X-Files” and “Kalifornia.” “What Happens Later” was written by Ryan, with playwright Steven Dietz and playwright and novelist Kirk Lynn.  It was based on Dietz’s play “Shooting Star.”

“What Happens Later” finds Willa and Bill as over-the-hill ex-lovers who discover they just may find each other still attractive. Of course, they also find themselves cranky at their mature age.  As Willa, Ryan is feisty in her 50s; Duchovny as Bill, also in his 50s, is separated from his wife and daughter. Willa is quick with the sarcastic remarks, while Bill responds more gruffly. Early on, Bill manages to unplug a digital billboard when trying to charge his cell phone.

It’s the first time Ryan has been in a movie since her 2015 directorial debut in “Ithaca.” Ryan says of “What Happens Later” in an Entertainment Weekly interview, “It has a relationship to movies from the ’40s, like ‘Bringing Up Baby,’ in terms of the banter and the rhythm of things, and a lot of that era of filmmaking.”

“It’s just me and the whole damn movie, and it’s just a throwback sweet film,” adds Duchovny.

Both Willa and Bill are eager to get on a plane and head home, but they find their memories of a past that took place in their 20s are very different. Now that they’ve reached their 50s, this causes some friction. It’s a story that asks mature questions: “Do you think about the one — what would happen if I ever saw him or her, after all this time? What would we say to each other?”

The characters in “What Happens Later” bring the regrets of midlife. “They can’t go through the second thoughts of younger rom-coms — they can’t appear stupid or stunted. And yet they can’t also be jaded or boring. It was really, How do we make it legitimate for adults?” Ryan says.

Information and tickets for “What Happens Later” are available at mvfilmsociety.com.