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November 2002                                          SITE MAP   SEARCH
Crush
cast: Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty and Bill Patterson

writer and director: John McKay

108 minutes (15) 2001
FilmFour VHS rental
Also available to rent on DVD

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Emma French
Crush is a poorly written, unconvincing and embittered portrayal of the repercussions that occur when female friendship spills over into jealousy and covetousness. It indicates how a friendship between three middle-aged women can implode when a competitive aspect is introduced. In the UK, this film had the alternative working titles 'Sad Fuckers Club' and 'A Certain Age', which make the film's preoccupations pretty clear. Three women in their early forties have their friendship threatened when one of them, Kate, played by Andie MacDowell, begins a steamy affair with a man at least 15 years her junior who she used to teach at school.
   MacDowell, generally an incompetent and simpering actress, looks stunning here in comparison to the rest of the dowdy cast. MacDowell's modelling background makes her a natural candidate for that ultimate cliché, the fantasy makeover from pent-up wrinkled spinster to hot pants-wearing, serial-fornicating temptress after just one timely sexual encounter. Imelda Staunton, as the matronly, sensible policewoman Janine, reprises the middle-aged, middle-class nurturing role she has played in virtually all her other films - though never to such charmless effect. Anna Chancellor is memorably unattractive as the homicidal closet lesbian Molly. She adopts an irritating range of American mannerisms and encapsulates everything that is amoral and lazy about the film's message.
   Dreary clichés concerning what women around 40 like to do and say to each other are constantly rehearsed, in a pseudo-feminist manner that actually reinforces the most negative gender stereotypes imaginable. Thus women go bad without sex, women are permanently damaged goods after one bad relationship, and even the firmest female friendships collapse if a sexy man appears on the scene. Rarely have male cast members had so little to do onscreen. The fertilising stud, Jed (Kenny Doughty) is a pitiful cipher, and he comes to a premature and ludicrous end, which confusingly alters the tone of the entire middle section of the film. A desperate vicar is the only other male character who remotely lingers in the mind.
   This does not fit as easily into the chick flick genre as its marketers would like it to. It is in fact uneasily indefinable, by turns an overly sentimental love story, an inept thriller lacking suspense and a melodrama of the American TV movie variety. The film is also perplexingly convinced of its own cuteness and humour, relying on tired formulae such as women comforting themselves with confectionery, and women in authority positions playing with their roles by dressing up as schoolteachers in the bedroom, or using their medical career as an excuse to grope bachelors.
   Neither funny nor moving, Crush is a bleak picture of what women are deemed to want from life, love and 21st century cinema.
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