In the 1960s, a group of friends at an all girls school learn that their school is going to be combined with a nearby all boys school. They concoct a plan to save their school while dealing with everyday problems along the way.
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
Captivating ... sexy ... moody ... original ... superbly made film with truly memorable performances
These days it's rare to come across a finely crafted film that plays every character -- and literally every moment of every scene -- with an uncompromising integrity. Instead of the usual attempt to make a marketable product that pulls the right demographic -- or pushes everyone's buttons -- or simply puts as many of the masses into the seats as possible, writer Alex Metcalf and director William Olsson follow their very resonant characters into the story generated quite naturally by these delicately entangled lives. Yes, there are elements of "coming of age", of "cloak and dagger", of "erotic thriller", etc. -- but it isn't really any of those. Like all really outstanding motion pictures, this film belongs to itself -- is its own category.
Setting fictional characters into a piece of well-known history is in itself a major film-making challenge and not without its pitfalls. But there isn't a single false step here as Olsson juggles fact and fiction with seamless precision, managing to keep all the balls in the air. "An American Affair' is a quiet movie ... taking its time ... allowing you savor every sweet and sour moment. The music is minimal -- yet superbly appropriate and authentic to period. Never showy, the thoughtful camera work serves the characters and content very, very well.
The performances are uniformly excellent -- with Gretchen Mol turning in a truly memorable tour-de-force portrayal of this complex, conflicted young woman. The erotic scenes are never overplayed -- they're tangible -- real. This is genuine eroticism -- not the showbiz kind. She plays the total woman at all times and yet retains that elusive air ... a lingering mystique. Can we -- can anyone -- really know her? We savor each tiny revelation that emerges through her many moods -- playful, seductive, cynical, childlike, creative, materialistic, conscientious, free-spirited, controlling, generous, vulnerable, self-serving. Mol plays every resonant note to absolute perfection and it's the key to making this film so unforgettable.
This is the kind of movie that stays with you long after the lights come up. Hard to believe it's Olsson's first feature length film -- and it's made in the English language for North America's convenience! We have a lot to look forward to from this wonderful new addition to the world's motion picture auteurs.
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