It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
If I were reviewing "Crush" in England, I would work the name of Joanna Trollope into the first sentence, and my readers would immediately be able to identify the terrain. Trollope, a best-seller who is often quite perceptive and touching, writes at the upper range of the category just below serious fiction. She is a good read for those, like myself, who fantasize about living prosperously in the Cotswolds in an old but comfortably remodeled cottage not far from the village green, the churchyard, the tea shop, the bookstore and the rail line to London, while meanwhile growing involved in a web of imprudent adulterous sex. (As a happily married man, you understand, I do not want to perform adulterous imprudent sex, only to be involved in a web with such entertaining neighbors.) This is not England. Few North Americans read Joanna Trollope, and fewer still respond to key words in her vocabulary such as Aga . An Aga cooker-stove is so expensive and versatile, it does everything but peel the potatoes, and its presence in a kitchen tells you so much about the occupants that in the Brit book review pages, the phrase "Aga romance" perfectly categorizes a novel.
"Crush" is an Aga romance crossed with modern retro-feminist soft porn, in which liberated women discuss lust as if it were a topic and not a fact. We begin by meeting the three heroines, who are fortysomething professionals and meet once a week to (1) drink gin, (2) smoke cigarettes, (3) eat caramels, and (4) discuss their lousy love lives. My advice to these women: Stop after (3).
The characters: Kate (Andie MacDowell) is the American headmistress of the local upscale school, Janine (Imelda Staunton) is a physician, and Molly (Anna Chancellor) is the police chief. That these three professional women at their age would all still be smoking can be explained only by a movie that does not give them enough to do with their hands. One day Kate goes to a funeral, is immeasurably moved by the music, and meets the organist. His name is Jed (Kenny Doughty), and he was once a student of hers. She is between 15 and 18 years older, but their conversation drifts out of the church and into the churchyard, and soon they are performing the old rumpy-pumpy behind a tombstone while the mourners are still stifling their sobs.
This is, you will agree, an example of lust. In a rabbit, it would be simple lust. In a headmistress, it is reckless lust. (In a 25-year-old organist, it is what comes from pumping the foot pedals for 30 minutes while observing Andie MacDowell). The movie cannot leave it at lust, however, because then it would be a different movie. So it elevates it into a Love That Was Meant to Be, in which the two lovers overcome differences of age, class and grooming, and determine to spend their lives together. Because they are attractive people and we like them, of course we identify with their foolishness and feel good when romance triumphs.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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