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What if a boy's coming of age included a relationship with a woman in her 30s, a free spirit who paints and who numbers the President of the United States among her lovers? In Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1963, junior-high student Adam Stafford becomes obsessed with his new neighbor, Catherine Caswell. He steams open her mail, reads her diary, peers into her windows, and hides in her closet. CIA agents notice him; he sees them meet with her and with an anti-Castro Cuban. She hires Adam to work in her garden, and they become friends of sorts. Is theirs an American affair? Written by
According to the Wikipedia website, Kevin Taft in a 4th August 2009 review of this film in the Edge, states the "Catherine Caswell character [played by Gretchen Mol] and the events not involving the wholly fictional Adam Stafford are based on Mary Pinchot Meyer". See more »
To me this film is essentially your average made-for-TV production that isn't really memorable in one way or another. I'm not going to go into the acting, direction or overall plausibility of the storyline as other reviewers have except to say that this movie is basically a telling of the real life relationship between President John F. Kennedy and a Washington socialite named Mary Pinchot Meyer.
Meyer had been introduced to Kennedy some years back through various acquaintances, namely Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post fame who at that time was a reporter for Newsweek magazine and Bradlee was in fact married to Mary's sister, Tony. Mary Meyer had in fact been married to a CIA operative named Cord Meyer who as portrayed in this movie was once the idealistic and now cynical and alcoholic ex-husband still looking for a chance to reunite with his wife. Mary was also indeed an exceptionally attractive woman in her day and was artistic as depicted in this film by Gretchen Mol's character. The existence of a diary detailing the nature of the relationship with Kennedy was very much real in 1963-1964 for Mary Meyer and upon her death nearly a year after Kennedy was assassinated, CIA operatives were intent on retrieving the diary for the potentially explosive information it contained not only about the affair but also on Agency operations with a view to the idea that JFK shared secrets with Meyer that may have ultimately resulted in his assassination.
The plot of 'An American Affair' does indeed follow this real-life story nearly to the letter and the mystery surrounding Mary Meyer's death lingers today for those that believed she knew much more and indeed let on she knew who might have been responsible for the President's death. That is very much implied in this movie, but I can't help but think this could've been such a great film with a better script. It truly has all the ingredients of being a love story, political thriller and mystery wrapped up in one.
6 out of 10.
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