Crush

on April 05, 2002 by Annlee Ellingson
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   Director/writer John McKay's “Crush” escapes the precious trappings of most romantic comedies, infusing into the story very real, complicated emotions. Kate (Andie MacDowell) is a single American expatriate headmistressing at a private high school in a charming village in the English countryside. Janine (Imelda Staunton) is a divorced mother who makes up for her diminutive size with her fiery personality. And Molly (Anna Chancellor) is a doctor and habitual casualty of dysfunctional relationships. These three women are best friends and meet regularly to share their romantic adventures and vote for “saddest fuck of the week.”

   These gatherings are among the most amusing scenes in the film, as the girls flash back to their dates over the course of the week, the women's words coming out of the men's mouths as they recount the conversation.

   When Kate falls for a much younger man--one of her former pupils--Janine and especially Molly object and plot to break up the relationship. Kate knows her new love is unconventional, but Jed (Kenny Doughty) makes her feel so feminine--welcome attention after having just recently recovered from ovarian cancer. When tragedy strikes, the trio's friendship seems ruined forever, and Kate determines she should settle for the reliable local reverend.

   MacDowell, Staunton and Chancellor convey an intimate rapport. Their shared chemistry makes their falling out all the more painful. And Doughty's performance leaves no doubt as to why Kate stays with him, despite his immaturities. A talented organist, Doughty's Jed first attracts Kate's attention at a funeral, where his beautiful music leaves not a dry eye in the church. “People want to cry. I help them,” he tells her. His tutorial on how he does this is among the most lucid explanations of the power of music. Starring Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor and Kenny Doughty. Directed and written by John McKay. Produced by Robert H. Nathan. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Romantic comedy. Rated R for sexuality and language. Running time: 115 min

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