June 07, 1999 12:00 PM

Lena Headey, Douglas Henshall, Penélope Cruz, Elizabeth McGovern

In the same way you might have been given a do-over for a botched volleyball serve in a high school gym class, so the hero of this charmingly eccentric romantic comedy gets a do-over when he messes up with his girlfriend.

In fact, Twice Upon a Yesterday is itself something of a do-over of last year’s Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. Set in London, it opens with its hero, an unemployed actor (Henshall), traveling back in time to rectify the swinish behavior (including two-timing) that caused his longtime sweetie (Headey) to ditch him and hook up with another man. For a while all is bliss with the now reformed Henshall acting the model boyfriend, but he soon learns the hard way that you can’t mess with fate. Or, as the fetching young Spanish woman (Cruz) who will play a role in his future tells him, quoting Cervantes’s The Adventures of Don Quixote, “Don’t look for this year’s birds in last year’s nests.”

Twice has an agreeable cast, is snappily directed by Spanish-born Maria Ripoll (it’s her first feature film) and reveals London’s lively Notting Hill neighborhood to be a far more multiethnic enclave than it appears in the enjoyable new Julia Roberts movie that bears the nabe’s name. (R)

Bottom Line: Charming romantic fable puts love on rewind

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