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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Crush

Starring: Andie MacDowell, Anna Chancellor
Director: John McKay
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Imelda Staunton, Kenny Doughty, Bill Paterson

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows ---
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Whenever we had a bull session at the fraternity house back in college days, we'd discuss the young women of the campus and the surrounding area schools. If any of us found a particular coed to be grouchy for a period of time, our diagnosis was consistently, "She's not getting it." Nowadays, such a conclusion would considered politically incorrect, though no doubt the guys at the fraternity houses still bandy it about, but as I interpret John McKay's concept in his debut feature film "Crush," there's at least some truth in it. Look at McKay's principal character, Kate (Andie MacDowell), for example. Though she's at the top of her career and still in her early forties living in a quaint English village in the Cotswolds and headmistress of a tony school she's moody and distracted and downright unhappy. When she gets together for a weekly session with her two likewise successful buddies, Janine (Imelda Staunton) and Molly (Anna Chancellor), the three of them bitch about their unsuccessful attempts to find decent men. Molly is a chain-smoking family doctor and Janine is a police inspector, but the former has been married and divorced three times while the latter seems to be ready to give up altogether. When Kate does find a man who she thinks is the love of her life, a handsome 25-year-old organist and former pupil named Jed (Kenny Doughty), she enjoys an ecstatic sexual relationship which changes her life and mellows her buddy-buddy discussions.

Andie MacDowell is made for this kind of role, the sort which reached near-classic stature with "Four Weddings and a Funeral." In her last picture, "Harrison's Flowers," the forty-four year old actress who looks stunning when she lets down her long frizzy hair is determined to find her photojournalist husband in Bosnia despite assurances from everyone that he's dead. In "Crush, despite assurances from her two best friends that she should consider her much younger friend to be dead because the relationship simply would not work out, she persists just as strongly.

This absorbing movie, exquisitely photographed by Henry Braham in rich golds and browns among the lovely cottages in the English countryside giving it a Merchant-Ivory look, gets its edge from Janine's and Molly's attempts to dissuade Kate from her new passion, with Molly in particular advising her pal (largely out of envy) that the young stud would wear her out and then go looking around for someone his own age. Among the townsfolks concerned about the affair is Gerald, the reverend at the school, an older man who bears a crush of his own on the gorgeous Kate but has been too shy to propose marriage.

We get a picture of small-town England as a place that looks swell to the eye, but an area in which we might not want to live. While this is the sort of community in which everyone knows everyone else and is supportive for the most part, the same claustrophobic atmosphere can turn on the resident. Everyone knows your business. Everyone has something to advise or, if not, is ready to give a dirty look or a titter of two to a "fallen" woman who passes on the street.

Some might call this a poor-man's "Four Weddings and a Funeral," while at least one other critic has said that the movie is "not one for the men." The latter comment is downright silly since, at the very least, don't all men want to know what women talk about when they get together and guzzle gin, eat chocolates and smoke? Despite the down-and-dirty talk by the three women about us scuzzy males, this is not the sort of picture that would require you to hide under the chair to avoid your date's wrath. This is not quite a "Waiting to Exhale." "Crush" is, rather, a superbly acted, edgy, fast-paced romp with enough originality to bypass the usual buddy-movie cliches.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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