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Crush (R)

Sony Picture Classics
Official Site
Director: John McKay
Producer: Lee Thomas, Elinor Day, Julia Chasman, Hanno Huth, and Paul Webster
Written by: John McKay
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty.

Rating: out of 5

There certainly are a lot of people who hate Andie MacDowell, and theyíre not limited by age, sex, or race. I donít even think thereís a class factor, though I didnít research that thoroughly. Why do I bring this up? Because anybody who already hates MacDowell will use Crush to justify that hatred. And those of us who are ambivalent, or, heaven forbid, actually like MacDowell in some of her roles, will have the opportunity judge Crush on its own merits.

With that said, this first feature by writer-director John McKay doesnít have a lot of merits to stand on, and therefore, the fault lies directly with him. The acting isnít bad. MacDowell, Staunton, and Chancellor all do a fine job convincing us that they have become bitter middle-aged women whose only joy comes from having the most pathetic man story of the week. Ok, so I hated Chancellorís Molly from the first frame, but I have to believe she was directed to be that bitchy and merely did an excellent job at it. Even Doughty does a fine job as Jed, the younger man and skilled organist MacDowellís headmistress Kate scandalously becomes involved with.

So, whatís the problem? Plot, plot, plot. Clearly, this is meant to be a tearjerker for women over 35, possibly well over 35. As a male under 35, Iím definitely not the target audience here, but come on! I actually kind of enjoyed the first half of this movie. Not my normal cup of tea, but it was cute, and seeing normal, middle-aged women depicted as desirable and those who enjoy sex was a breath of fresh air. Then, tragedy strikes. Yes, thereís a tragedy in the storyline, but the greater tragedy is the first thing I learned from watching this movie: Even on a deserted English country road, you canít hear a large truck coming with a broken heart.

If it sounds funny and ridiculous, it is, and the whole movie goes downhill from there. I practically vibrated from the amount of heartstring plucking going on. Then, the carefully constructed conservatism of this small English town gets turned on its head, and the dire consequences trumpeted for half the film are completely ignored in the resulting love-in that reconciles everyone left alive. Sadly, that doesnít even give away the plot, since everyone knows what must happen for Crush to have the proper sappy emotional payoff.

If you like MacDowell and fall into the target audience, I canít say you wonít enjoy this movie. Several members of the preview audience seemed to, all of them in the over-40 set. Otherwise, wait a decade or two for the right combination of bitterness, wisdom, and hormones to make this a film-watching experience you can stomach.

óReed Oliver


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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