"To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation either in time or eternity," Soren Kierkegaard said, and, of course, he was right. This robust romantic comedy illustrates that emotional truth.

Julia Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter, a hardware store owner in Hale, Maryland, who has left three husbands-to-be at the altar watching her run away. This isn't just a bad case of premarital jitters; this is abandoning the ship.

When Ike Graham (Richard Gere), a cynical columnist for USA Today, hears this story, he uses her as the central figure in a caustic commentary on women as maneaters. She protests inaccuracies in the story, and before he knows what's happening, he is fired by his boss (Rita Wilson) for not checking his sources. Seeking vindication, he accepts an assignment to write a profile of Maggie. Ike travels to the small town where she lives, intending to tell the real story against the backdrop of her upcoming marriage to Bob (Christopher Meloni), a physical education teacher and ardent mountain climber.

Everybody has an opinion about Maggie's inability to commit — her fleeing has become a joke in the community — and they are all willing to talk to Ike about it, including her alcoholic father (Paul Dooley), her feisty grandmother (Jean Schertler), her best friend (Joan Cusack), and the men she stood up on their wedding day.

From the vivid opening scene of the runaway bride on a galloping horse, her bridal gown flowing behind her, to the heart-warming finale, director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) draws out all the magic comic moments in this satisfying love story. The Runaway Bride speaks to the fear-driven person inside us who is always in transit. It also reminds us that love can't open our hearts until we stop cheating on our true selves. Commitment is possible once we stop believing the bad press we write about ourselves.