Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: An American Affair

JFK meets Notes on a Scandal meets Rear Window? An American Affair has some promise and potential, but its main ideas remain messy and undeveloped.

Feb 27, 2009

-By Eric Monder


filmjournal/photos/stylus/72638-American_Affair_Md.jpg

Gretchen Mohl in 'An American Affair'

For movie details, please click here.

In director William Sten Olsson’s romantic mystery set against the backdrop of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, a teenager falls for an older woman living next door. Whatever the point was, An American Affair gets lost in the muddle of the plot.

Alex Metcalf’s story starts a few months following the tense crisis in Washington, D.C., where Adam (Cameron Bright), a lonely 13-year-old, gets into trouble with the head nuns at Holy Cross School and argues frequently with his cold parents (Noah Wyle and Perrey Reeves). The boy begins an infatuation with his sexy next-door neighbor, Catherine (Gretchen Mol), who hires him to landscape her lawn—against his parents’ wishes. Soon, Adam discovers that Catherine, a divorcée and artist, is involved with the handsome young President Kennedy. To add to the mix, Catherine’s volatile ex-husband (Mark Pellegrino) starts hanging around, wanting her back.

Lucian (James Rebhorn), a gruff CIA officer, enters the scene and warns Catherine to remain discreet about her affair and, as a precautionary measure, he investigates Adam’s family life. Then JFK’s unexpected assassination upsets Adam and the world around him and another tragedy forces the boy to confront some difficult truths about what he has experienced.

An American Affair is not poorly made, but nothing about it quite gels. The screenplay clumps together fact and fiction in a less-than-convincing way, and the dialogue seems more modern than the utterances of the people of 1963. Olsson’s direction (his feature debut) is generally competent but also flat and conventional, and his overuse of Dustin O’Halloran’s piano score becomes downright clichéd. (In the print I viewed, the music drowned out some of the dialogue and the sound effects were much louder than the words spoken.)

The actors try hard, but they, too, seem to be playing characters from a different era. While Mol is appealing, she seems to be channeling Michelle Pfeiffer in the similar JFK-era romance, Love Field. Bright does fairly well as the smitten Adam (even though he is actually 16), but some of the other supporting actors are stuck playing stock characters, especially Rebhorn, who seems to have wandered in from Oliver Stone’s JFK saga, and Lisa-Lisbeth Finney as the strict Holy Cross nun, who makes Meryl Streep’s sister in Doubt look like a subtle characterization.


Film Review: An American Affair

JFK meets Notes on a Scandal meets Rear Window? An American Affair has some promise and potential, but its main ideas remain messy and undeveloped.

Feb 27, 2009

-By Eric Monder


filmjournal/photos/stylus/72638-American_Affair_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

In director William Sten Olsson’s romantic mystery set against the backdrop of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, a teenager falls for an older woman living next door. Whatever the point was, An American Affair gets lost in the muddle of the plot.

Alex Metcalf’s story starts a few months following the tense crisis in Washington, D.C., where Adam (Cameron Bright), a lonely 13-year-old, gets into trouble with the head nuns at Holy Cross School and argues frequently with his cold parents (Noah Wyle and Perrey Reeves). The boy begins an infatuation with his sexy next-door neighbor, Catherine (Gretchen Mol), who hires him to landscape her lawn—against his parents’ wishes. Soon, Adam discovers that Catherine, a divorcée and artist, is involved with the handsome young President Kennedy. To add to the mix, Catherine’s volatile ex-husband (Mark Pellegrino) starts hanging around, wanting her back.

Lucian (James Rebhorn), a gruff CIA officer, enters the scene and warns Catherine to remain discreet about her affair and, as a precautionary measure, he investigates Adam’s family life. Then JFK’s unexpected assassination upsets Adam and the world around him and another tragedy forces the boy to confront some difficult truths about what he has experienced.

An American Affair is not poorly made, but nothing about it quite gels. The screenplay clumps together fact and fiction in a less-than-convincing way, and the dialogue seems more modern than the utterances of the people of 1963. Olsson’s direction (his feature debut) is generally competent but also flat and conventional, and his overuse of Dustin O’Halloran’s piano score becomes downright clichéd. (In the print I viewed, the music drowned out some of the dialogue and the sound effects were much louder than the words spoken.)

The actors try hard, but they, too, seem to be playing characters from a different era. While Mol is appealing, she seems to be channeling Michelle Pfeiffer in the similar JFK-era romance, Love Field. Bright does fairly well as the smitten Adam (even though he is actually 16), but some of the other supporting actors are stuck playing stock characters, especially Rebhorn, who seems to have wandered in from Oliver Stone’s JFK saga, and Lisa-Lisbeth Finney as the strict Holy Cross nun, who makes Meryl Streep’s sister in Doubt look like a subtle characterization.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Food Chains
Film Review: Food Chains

Vitally important, infuriating exposé of the world of injustice behind the food you consume. More »

Monk with a Camera
Film Review: Monk With a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland

Enthralling and uplifting documentary about a man of the world turned monk, but one who effects real, inspiring change. More »

The Circle
Film Review: The Circle

Very strong, historically intriguing and important gay document is marred by intrusive real-life interview footage, which seriously breaks up the dramatic momentum. More »

babadook
Film Review: The Babadook

An intense, terrifying indie horror film with more on its mind than scaring its audience. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Hunger Games - Mockingjay Pt 1
Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Darker, less action-packed first half of the final installment of the popular franchise moves from arenas to rubble aplenty as Jennifer Lawrence’s super-heroine is called upon to serve her beleaguered and much-destroyed nation as propaganda instrument and leader. Fans of the books and previous two films get a less flashy palette here, but the engaging characters and strong story return to stir interest for the scheduled November 2015 finale. More »

Foxcatcher review
Film Review: Foxcatcher

Character is destiny in this masterfully controlled true-crime sports drama that will likely catapult Steve Carell into the Oscar race. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here