ANDY GARCIA VERA FARMIGA
The first really good film of 2014 comes in the form of a long lost genre: good romantic comedies. Not since the early paring of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan has there been such a charming film like this in the genre. At Middleton isn’t whimsy like You’ve Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle. It’s much smarter and more intuitive than that. This isn’t a film about hopeless romantics or young love; it’s about a certain stage in life that is complicated and disappointing and we get to watch two people spend one incredible day together. “Sometimes a day can be an eternity.”
While heart surgeon George (Garcia) is explaining to his son Conrad (Spencer Lofranco) why it’s important to back into a parking spot, Edith (Farmiga) and her daughter (Taissa Farmiga) whip into the first available spot. A friendly conversation ensues between the two parents where Edith tells the uptight, bow-tie wearing doctor to celebrate that there was even a free spot. Both parents are on a campus tour with their teenagers and both get separated and continue their flirty banter. It becomes an adventure throughout Middleton University that neither will ever forget.
Besides the always incredible Oscar nominated Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring, Up in the Air), the thing that really put me in the right frame of mind for the film was the atmosphere and cinematography. We follow these grown-ups through a beautiful campus (filmed in Spokane, Washington) with green grass that makes you want to go outside and stare up at a blue sky. If you have ever taken one of these campus tours as a prospective student or a parent, you will likely feel some nostalgia because they really get it right here. It’s a witty and beautifully done romance film unlike anything I have seen recently, and the chemistry between Garcia and Farmiga is seasoned to perfection.
The film’s two low points are a frantic escape from campus police, which is simply just a way for the script to get the adults acting somewhat like teenagers, to a location they otherwise wouldn’t have ventured into. The type of drug use in the film is for comedic effect and I felt it took away from the momentum the film had up until that point. It does get back on track, but the high point of the film is the first hour and it really had me laughing out loud at the comedic genius of Vera Farmiga, who will charm your socks off with her loud, adventurous mother figure.
Final Thought – Like a breath of fresh air; perfect chemistry and one charming romantic comedy.
By: Dustin Chase