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Louise Harrington, a divorced, thirty-something admissions officer at Columbia University's School of Fine Arts is intelligent, pretty, and successful, yet unfulfilled. That is, until a graduate school application crosses her desk and she arranges to interview the young painter. When F. Scott Feinstadt appears, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Louise's high school boyfriend and one true love, an artist who died in a car accident twenty years earlier. Within hours of the interview, Louise and Scott have embarked on a passionately uninhibited older woman/younger man affair. But is Scott just a reminder of Louise's lost love? And is Scott just trying to wheedle his way into the Ivy League? Adding to the romantic complications is competition from Louise's best friend from high school, Missy, who shows up to claim the affections of the boy; Louise's co-dependent ex-husband Peter; her cynical mother and fresh-out-of-rehab brother. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Basically the film is about a lonely 39 year old woman named Louise (Laura Linney) whose only friend (self-admitted) is her ex-husband. She lives her safe and humdrum life working at Admissions for Columbia, talking to her best friend (Marcia Gay Harden) who is going through her own adulthood misery, and watching happier, younger couples from her office aloft. So, when an application with the name F. Scott Fienstadt (Topher Grace), the same name as the young love of her life who died, comes along she has no problem going completely out of her comfort zone and daily routine to meet, seduce, and compare the new to the old, or rather her indestructible memory of the old.
It's a dangerous plot premise-- already you've got the Mrs. Robinson comparisons, as well as the tiptoe out of reality with the same name as her dead love, and the adulthood alienation script. However, it seems that every single person in the movie was completely aware of the danger and paid so much care to their work that you don't even recognize it. Laura Linney, in a demanding role, manages to not only evoke sympathy while she tortures the younger man with her cynicism but also gives a complexity and innocence to the female character that most every actress in Hollywood strives for but seldom achieves. Topher Grace, as her paramour, gives a smart performance that mixes the self-confidence of youth with a restrained, intellectual, old soul backbone that really serves to offer himself up as more than a teenage, primetime face. Marcia Gay Harden is wonderful and real as always, she could have hammed up this character, but she played it very nicely -- so much so you could see the girl in the woman, which is exactly what she needed to do. The rest of the supporting cast is solid, and since it is such a small ensemble, heavily appreciated.
Yes, the ending isn't what it could have been but the relationship and the plot could have been a whole lot worse. If anything, I highly recommend it for people who love the small ensemble films that attempt to deal openly and honestly with out of the box relationships and being who you are at the age you are now. 6/10.
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