After playing with a Ouija board with her brother Larry, 11-year-old Faith Corvatch becomes convinced that her soul mate, the man she is destined to be with, is named "Damon Bradley." This belief is strengthened when a few years later a carnival fortune teller tells her that "Damon Bradley" is the name of the man she will marry.
Fourteen years later, Faith is a teacher at a Catholic school and is engaged to a podiatrist. 10 days before their wedding, Faith learns that her fiancé's high-school classmate (Damon Bradley) is flying to Venice that day. Determined to meet him, Faith follows his trail with her sister-in-law, Kate, from Pittsburgh through Venice and the Italian countryside to a street-side restaurant in Rome, but they never quite catch up with him.
Faith meets a young American man, but has no interest until he identifies himself as Damon Bradley. They spend a romantic evening together and fall hopelessly in love. Then he reveals that his actual name is Peter Wright, so she angrily leaves him and prepares to fly back home. Meanwhile, a suave Italian businessman named Giovanni has been wooing Kate.
The next morning Peter tells Faith that he searched for Damon overnight and discovered that he has moved on to Positano. Giovanni agrees to drive the three Americans there. At a posh hotel Faith meets Damon, a good-looking playboy, and invites him to dinner. Peter spies on them until Damon makes unwelcome sexual advances on Faith. It turns out that this "Damon" really is a friend of Peter's who has helped Peter stage the entire scene.
Back in the United States, Larry finds out that his wife, Kate, is in Italy. He travels there to find her while Kate and Faith are again planning to return home. Larry arrives in time to make up with Kate. He also reveals to her that he intentionally spelt out the name "Damon Bradley" on the Ouija board as a prank, and then paid the fortune teller to tell Faith that her true love had the same name. He hasn't told Faith the truth because he has been afraid she would never speak to him again.
Faith and Peter are at the airport when they hear Damon Bradley paged. At the information desk they finally meet Damon, who is not especially handsome. Peter explains to Damon why Faith has been following him. He also tells Damon that he (Peter) is in love with her, then boards his flight home to Boston. Damon asks Faith if she loves Peter. She realizes that she does and rushes to join Peter on his plane. The airport staff delays the flight until Faith can board. She and Peter embrace and kiss as the passengers and crew applaud. Their plane then flies into the sunset.Marisa Tomei as Faith Corvatch
Tammy Minoff as Young Faith
Robert Downey, Jr. as Peter Wright
Bonnie Hunt as Kate Corvatch
Jessica Hertel as Young Kate
Joaquim de Almeida as Giovanni
Fisher Stevens as Larry Corvatch
Harry Barandes as Young Larry
Billy Zane as Harry, False Damon Bradley
Siobhan Fallon as Leslie
John Benjamin Hickey as Dwayne, Faith's Fiancé
Adam LeFevre as Damon Bradley (Real)
Barbara Cupisti as Anna
Antonia Rey as Fortune teller
Phyllis Newman as Faith's Mother
Denise Du Maurier as Dwayne's Mother
Dina Morrone as Shoe Show Announcer
Chicago Studio City, 5660 W. Taylor Street, Austin, Chicago, Illinois, USA (747 mockup)
Cinecittà Studios, Cinecittà, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Positano, Salerno, Campania, Italy
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Monterrigioni, Siena, Tuscany, Italy (where they run out of gas)
Venice, Veneto, Italy
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, USA
Filming locations in Rome included the piazza at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, Tiber Island, the piazza and column outside San Bartolomeo all'Isola, the Pons Fabricius northeast of Tiber Island, Esquiline Hill, the Fountain of Neptune at Piazza Navona, and the fountain at the south end of Via del Mascherone near Via Giulia.
Filming locations also included the Hotel Le Sirenuse at via Cristoforo Colombo in Positano (where they meet Billy Zane's character at the pool) and the Hotel Danieli in Venice.
Upon its theatrical release, Only You received mixed reviews. In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half out of four stars, calling it "an endangered species in today's Hollywood."
It is total fantasy, light as a feather, contrary to all notions of common sense, it features a couple of stars who are really good kissers—and it takes place mostly in Venice, Rome, and the glorious Italian hillside town of Positano. What more do you want? Movies like this were once written for Katharine Hepburn (Summertime), Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday) and Rossano Brazzi (Three Coins in the Fountain). Or remember Clark Gable and Sophia Loren in It Happened in Naples? There is a case to be made that no modern actors have quite the innocence or the faith to play such heedless lovers, but Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. somehow manage to lose all the baggage of our realistic, cynical age, and give us a couple of fools in love.
Ebert singles out Tomei's performance as particularly noteworthy.
I can think of many angst-laden young Hollywood stars, many of them accomplished actors, who could not have come within miles of the work done by Downey and Tomei in this movie. There is craft involved, yes, and even a certain inspiration, but what I reacted to more strongly was an ineffable sense of good nature: Tomei and Downey seem happy in their being here, and happier together than apart. That it what must be present if we're to respond to a story like this.
In her review in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called the film "frankly touristy" and Jewison's directorial approach "cornball". Maslin was even less impressed with Tomei's performance, calling her "the least convincing actress ever to pretend to teach school." Maslin does acknowledge Sven Nykvist's "picturesque" cinematography, Milena Canonero's "slinky, glamorous costumes", and Diane Drake's "rather sweet" screenplay.
In his review in The Washington Post, Desson Howe wrote, "Jewison directs Only You with sure, comic instinct." He singled out Bonnie Hunt's performance, noting, "Jewison's best asset of all is Hunt, an adroit comedian whose retorts and mannerisms—as she helps her friend along in this wacky mess—are priceless."
Howe's colleague at The Washington Post, Rita Kempley, was unimpressed with Tomei's performance:
Tomei is lovely in her gamin way, but she brings neither weight to the screen nor complexity to the insipidly drawn role of this postmodern Cinderella. Downey, feverish as the infatuated puppy-lover, actually carries the story through to its happy conclusion. Bonnie Hunt brings regret, rage and wit to the role of the underappreciated wife, who despite pie in her eye and a willing Latin lover boy, remains faithful to her husband in Philadelphia. Alas, that's amore.
In his review for Reel Views, James Berardinelli wote that Tomei and Downey "don't fully connect" and that the film is "entertaining without being exceptionally accomplished." Berardinelli called the film "essentially a light, inoffensive movie that will appeal to those who aren't seeking more than a bubbly romance."
In his DVD review for Movie.net, John J. Puccio wrote, "What every good romantic comedy demands are two beautiful people, usually of opposite sexes, beautiful scenery, beautiful music, and beautifully written situations. Never mind that director Norman Jewison's previous hit comedy, Moonstruck, didn't quite fit the mold. Only You does." Puccio called the film "one of the most charming films to come along since, well, since Moonstruck. On DVD it is beautiful just to look at. ... The scenery alone is worth the price of the DVD. The gorgeous photography and the crystal clarity of the images make widescreen viewing a must."
On the review aggregator web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 48% positive rating from top film critics based on 23 reviews, and a 68% positive audience rating based on 20,643 reviews.
The film opened at #3 at the North American box office making $5,711,738 USD in its opening weekend, and grossed $20,059,210 USD in the United States.
The original soundtrack for Only You was released in 1994 by Columbia Records. The album contains original music by Rachel Portman, classical Italian music, and pop songs by Michael Bolton.
- "Only You (And You Alone)" by Louis Armstrong (3:12)
- "Written in the Stars" by Ezio Pinza (1:15)
- "Some Enchanted Evening" by Ezio Pinza (3:01)
- "I'm Coming with You" by Peter De Sotto and Quartetto Gelato (2:21)
- "Venice" by Peter De Sotto and Quartetto Gelato (1:51)
- "O Sole Mio" by Peter De Sotto and Quartetto Gelato (3:10)
- "La traviata: Libiamo Ne' Lieti Calici" by Agnes Baltsa, José Carreras, London Symphony Orchestra and Plácido Domingo, conductor (2:57)
- "Lost in Tuscany" by Quartetto Gelato (2:29)
- "Arriving at Damon's Restaurant" by Quartetto Gelato (1:39)
- "Running After Damon" by Quartetto Gelato (0:58)
- "Gypsy Blessing" by Quartetto Gelato (3:21)
- "Positano" by Quartetto Gelato (1:45)
- "Quartet in B flat major: Rondo, Tempo Di Minuetto" by Quartetto Gelato (4:54)
- "Do You Love Him?" by Quartetto Gelato (3:16)
- "Theme from Only You" by Quartetto Gelato (3:34)
- "Once in a Lifetime" by Michael Bolton (5:55)
The following additional music appeared in the film but does not appear on the soundtrack CD.
- "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" - Johann Strauss
- "Swing City" - Richard Iacona
- "Sloe Gin Fizz" - Richard Iacona
- "Rondo" by Quartetto Gelato
- "Hallelujah Chorus" (George Frideric Handel) by Andrew Davis and The Toronto Symphony Orchestra
- "Amore Contro" by Eros Ramazzotti
- "Overture From La Forza Del Destino" - Giuseppe Verdi
- "Livin' in the Streets" by Kirk Whalum
- "Senza Perderci Di Vista" by Eros Ramazzotti
A Chinese remake also titled Only You was released on July 24, 2015. It stars Tang Wei and Liao Fan.