2001, R, 115 min. Directed by John McKay. Starring Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty, Bill Paterson.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 26, 2002

Crush, by first-time writer-director John McKay, is the kind of movie that gives “chick flicks” a bad reputation. This gal-pal British import lacks the courage to follow through on its narrative implications, and plays like a wan romantic comedy that, alternately, might have been titled Two Near Weddings and a Couple of Funerals. The heart of the story is the friendship between three professional, single women in their 40s: never-married schoolmistress Kate (MacDowell), cynical and multi-divorced physician Molly (Chancellor), and divorced single parent and police inspector Janine (Staunton). The three women gather in a weekly ritual they call the Sad Fuckers Club, during which they drink, cut loose, trash men, and lament their own sorry love lives. Apart from the cynicism and bawdy language, the Club is the fount of the female bonding experience that's so essential to movies of this sort. MacDowell's Kate is the kind of externally prim role model who harbors a passionate soul beneath her classic good looks. Her Mutt-and-Jeff friends range from the statuesque and promiscuous doctor and the dumpy but sensitive policewoman. All three are united in their belief that it is better to remain single than to settle for a mate who has “nothing wrong with him.” (Yet, one suspects that if they truly believed it's better to remain single, there would be no need for a Sad Fuckers Club and the gloomy resignation to their fortysomething status.) Things take a turn for the Douglas-Sirkian when Kate meets up with a former student half her age. Jed is the organist at a funeral, and before you can say, “teacher's pet,” the two are out back in the church graveyard sampling the young lad's organ. What Kate first regarded as a momentary fling quickly grows into a mutually shared passion, but Kate's friends and community scoff at the May-December romance -- just as Jane Wyman's country-club friends scorned her love affair with her much younger gardener Rock Hudson in Sirk's seminal weepie, All That Heaven Allows. Whereas Sirk's middle-class community only gossiped and patronized, Kate's best friends take a more meddlesome and proactive approach toward breaking up the deliriously happy couple. Of course, their vicious attack on Kate's happiness is forgiven by the end, as are the tragic consequences of their actions. It's here that the last strands of narrative logic and realism are tossed out the window in favor of the film's dishonest portrait of female bonding as the overriding impulse of these three characters. It also implies that the women will only find happiness within the disgruntled group pity of the Sad Fuckers Club. Despite its muddled message, Crush seems to play strongly among female-centric audiences. The performances are winning, and Kenny Doughty makes the best studmuffin debut since Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise. Distributor Sony Pictures Classics is wise to release this right now in a shrewd counter-programming move against the onslaught of the summer movie season with its rush of live-action cartoon blockbusters and noisy, testosterone-fueled blow-'em-ups. Crush will not eliminate boy-movie bonanza at the summer box office, but it should provide an unfortunately obvious alternative for girls' night out everywhere.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Andie MacDowell Films
My Happy Ending
Female bonding in the cancer ward

Feb. 24, 2023

No Man's Land
Well-intentioned cross-border drama finds humanity on all sides

Matthew Monagle, Jan. 22, 2021

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
All That Breathes
The struggle by three men to save the endangered black kite

March 31, 2023

SXSW Film Review: <i>Joy Ride</i>
Film Review: Joy Ride
Groundbreaking comedy doesn't break the raunchy mold

March 19, 2023


Crush, John McKay, Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton, Anna Chancellor, Kenny Doughty, Bill Paterson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle