Toy boy. Kate and Jed meet the neighbours
dir-scr John McKay
with Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty, Bill Paterson, Caroline Holdaway, Joe Roberts, Josh Cole, Gary Powell, Christian Burgess, James Vaughn, Louise Gold
release US 5.Apr.02; UK 7.Jun.02
02/UK 1h52

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Eight years after Four Weddings, MacDowell heads back to Brit-com land for what could have been titled Sex and the Cotswolds, a film that starts very well indeed then, like so many other British films, just throws it all away. Kate, Janine and Molly (MacDowell, Staunton and Chancellor) are the school headmistress, police chief and doctor in their picturesque village. In their early 40s, they meet each week to swap stories of sexual and relational disasters. And it's pretty much a toss-up whose love life is more hopeless ... until Kate falls for a 25-year-old former student (Doughty). This throws the entire friendship into disarray, mostly because Molly simply cannot accept the fact that it might be love, so she plots ways to prove her point.

So far so good. And actually it's a very well-written comedy, with telling scenes and very believable characters that bring out the themes wonderfully. This is MacDowell's best work in years; Staunton is funny and has impeccable timing; while Chancellor has the most thankless role as the conniving, relentless Molly. There's even a nice chemistry between MacDowell and Doughty, who starts out dim and vulgar (in a sit-com sort of way) and grows into something much more interesting. Then the plot kicks in and the entire film crumbles before our eyes with a series of events that get increasingly excruciating, like writer-director McKay dug himself into a hole then didn't know how to get out, so kept digging. Words cannot express how bad and unnecessary the film's final plot twists are; they're all wrong for a comedy, they trivialise the central friendship, and they leave us stunned with disbelief that anyone actually filmed this version of the script.
adult themes and situations, language cert 12 26.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Zoe, London: "I loved this film. I thought it was far superior to Four Weddings (though it certainly borrows from it). And as well as being laugh-out-loud funny, it also has a darker strand and I heard a lot of muted sobbing from female fans in the cinema. This film is a bit derivative in places and perhaps slightly silly in others, but overall I thought it was one of the best rom-coms I've seen in a long time. Kenny Doughty is a strikingly charismatic actor and the chemistry between him and Andie MacDowell sizzles." (23.Jun.02)

Flo, Switzerland: "It's really not a smooth feel-good movie. You'd never expect the twists and turns. It goes from fun and love over to tragedy and above all a friendship worth saving. It stirs conflicting emotions in the audience. But after some reflection: That's where the real attraction of this film lies, even if the story has its flaws. Great performances of the three ladies - especially Anna Chancellor as Molly puts on an outstanding, frightenly convincing act! You love and hate her character at the same time." (7.Aug.02)

DeJayne, Scotland: "I loved it. The chemistry between Doughty and MacDowell was tangible and Doughty has an intense enigmatic aura about him that makes him so appealing and likeable to the audience." (23.Dec.02)

Melanie Jayne, Durban, South Africa: 5/5 "i thought this was one of the most bittersweet movies i've seen in a long time. the love that jed and kate shared was tangible, you could see the chemistry that the actors had between them, it didnt look like they were just playing a role. i fell in love with jed - he was more than just the romantic lead, to me he made the whole movie for me. if he wasnt in the film i never would have watched it at all; he is probably one of the most beautiful creatures god put on this earth. i havent cried that much in a movie in a long while!" (12.Sep.04)

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall