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Inventing the Abbotts

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Inventing the Abbotts

Starring: Billy Crudup, Joaquin Phoenix
Director: Pat O'Connor
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: April 1997
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Liv Tyler, Joanna Going, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates

Review by Walter Frith
1 star out of 4

A small town in Illinois in 1957 is the setting for the opening of 'Inventing the Abbotts', a film about relationships that plays out more like a series of home movies and family photographs rather than as a full length motion picture. Three young women from a wealthy family (Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly and Joanna Going) examine their lives and make decisions about life at home, careers, raising children and examing their own morals. They are swept up in their tasks by two brothers (Joaquin Phoenix and Billy Crudup) who desire to escape from their borderline poverty stricken lives to perhaps marry into the wealthy family while providing love and companionship to their widowed mother played by Kathy Baker ('Picket Fences').

Will Patton is the head of the town's wealthy family who is strict in his convictions about the future of his daughters. At first one daughter, played by Going, marries a wealthy young man at the insistence of her parents and later has a child by him and ends up in an unhappy marriage. Another daughter (Connelly) who is the family tramp has a romantic fling with Crudup while both brothers desire her. Lastly, the nicest and most down to earth daughter (Tyler) has a passion for Phoenix and thier relationship is the centre of the film's focus and conflicts arise on all sides throughout the course of the film.

"Bland" is the word to describe this slow moving and often lazy film which has terrible performances from its leads (Tyler and Phoenix) and is a film which never gets off the ground and offers no twists or surprises in its plot to take it to another level. The film spans its way well into the 1960's and the characters are virtually the same at the end of the movie as they were at the beginning with a predictable outcome as well. Director Pat O'Connor has no zest for filmmaking and his interpretation of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy gets girl back is a tiresome one at best. 'Inventing the Abbotts' is a disappointing slice of American life from an era in history that many considered America's finest. Too bad this movie doesn't live up to the same expectations.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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