What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that At Middleton is a movie for adults, not because of any major iffy content, but because its themes involve the challenges of long-term marriage as well as the feelings that come along with sending kids off to college. There's some heavy flirting between adults (who are married to other people), plus some scenes where adults see college kids kissing and having sex in the distance. One scene involves adults smoking pot with college kids and acting very loopy. Expect some swearing, but not much.
What's the story?
George (Andy Garcia) and Edith (Vera Farmiga) meet on a college tour AT MIDDLETON while escorting their teenage kids, and quickly break away to spend the day goofing off together. They seem to have a connection, and both start to question their own long-term marriages. While the children ponder their futures, the adults reevaluate their pasts and wonder how far to let this new relationship go.
Is it any good?
Where to start? Perhaps the travesty of casting Garcia as an uptight, fuddy-duddy surgeon, a misuse of the great actor if there ever was one. And then there's the equally talented Farmiga, who marinates her entire performance in exaggerated effort, wringing it almost entirely, save for a few exceptions, of nuance. It's criminal, actually, especially considering the two have chemistry. (That's what saves it from being a complete wipeout. That and the basic plot, which has so much potential.)
But it's lost here amid the feckless dialogue -- feckless being a word that appears in the script often, at first in a witty flourish and, later, as a symbol of At Middleton's actual fecklessness -- and strange tonal shifts. It starts off goofy and improves much too late when it stops trying too hard to be funny and allows its themes -- the alienation parents can face when their children prepare to leave for college, among them -- to gain traction. One can see the scaffolding of a better, subtler, more complex movie beneath this thinly woven, ill-structured version. A shame it couldn't show up at Middleton.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the movie's messages. How is the audience supposed to feel about George and Edith's romance? Is their connection painted with approval, skepticism, or celebration?
How does the film depict the nature of love? Of marriage? Is it similar or different to the way movies always depict both topics?