In Crush we are introduced to three highly successful single women. There is Kate (Andie MacDowell) an attractive headmistress at a private school Molly (Anna Chancellor) a sexy prominent physician and finally Janine (Imelda Staunton) a single mom and police inspector. The three women are best friends who get together once a week and do what the majority of single women out there do: bitch about their non-existing love lives. They eat chocolate drink gin smoke cigarettes and compare dating disasters with a prize going to whomever has the most pathetic story. Although it seems like they are basking in their own misery the three maintain a sense of humor about their situations and have formed a really strong bond over the years. But that bond is affected when Kate embarks in an affair with a much younger man--a former student of hers Jed (played by Kenny Doughty). Molly enlists Janine's help in breaking up the affair fearing Kate is simply setting herself up for major heartbreak. Molly however seems to be acting out of jealousy rather than concern for Kate and the effects of her actions change their lives and friendship forever.
Andie MacDowell whom I found thoroughly annoying in Harrison's Flowers found a role that is completely suited for her in Kate. Although the story unfolds in rural England director John McKay (Wet and Dry) opted to have MacDowell play an American therefore retaining her Southern drawl. Dressed in linen dresses and crisp white shirts MacDowell plays the role of repressed headmistress perfectly down to her closet chain-smoking habit. Anna Chancellor (The Man Who Knew Too Little) seems a little too slick for the serious doctor role (it's hard to believe someone working as a health professional would smoke and drink that much) but she pulls it off nonetheless. Imelda Staunton (Another Life) fits into the role of police chief Janine like a glove. She may be the least glamorous of the three but she's also the most sincere and down-to-earth traits well suited to her profession. Kenny Doughty (Titus) rounds out the cast as Kate's intriguing young lover Jed. Young scruffy and a little edgy Doughty is a perfect match for MacDowell's prim character.
Crush focuses on the relationships of three women who despite working in completely different fields and having lived unique life experiences (one has never been married one has had several divorces and another is a single mom) have formed a deep friendship that crosses different boundaries. What makes it work is the chemistry that MacDowell Chancellor and Staunton have on screen. The chemistry between MacDowell and Doughty also spices up the story. The age difference between them is dealt with in a realistic manner not over-idealized. Kate for example is concerned about what others think of her relationship and whether or not Jed will fit into her circle of friends. Although a romantic love story is at the core of this film it rarely gets schmaltzy (except for the dramatic climax) thanks to some hilarious scenes in which the women recount some of their dating disasters.
Comte Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) the legendary
French libertine and writer of dirty stories who lent his name to the term
"sadism " goofs away the last decadent years of his life in an insane
asylum. But the black-market publication of his latest porno masterpiece
upsets the unorthodox arrangements he has with a mischievous chambermaid
(Kate Winslet) and the open-minded priest who administers the facility
(Joaquin Phoenix). Soon a harsh new supervisor (Michael Caine) arrives with
orders to break the unrepentant Marquis.
While he bears little physical resemblance to the historical de Sade -- a
350-pound 64-year-old at the time of his death in 1814 -- Rush ("Shine")
nails the combustible mixture of monster and intellectual rebel that makes
the character such a fascinating counterculture icon. Meanwhile "Titanic"
leading lady Winslet has almost too much sultry star presence for what is
little more than an overglorified henchwoman part. The talented Phoenix
("Gladiator") has much more to work with as a young priest caught in an
increasingly painful moral dilemma.
Philip Kaufman who previously indulged in raunchy literary biography with
1990's "Henry and June " digs into substantial issues about free speech and
the incendiary power of ideas in a piece that plays like "Amadeus" meets
"The People vs. Larry Flynt." Kaufman and screenwriter Doug Wright (adapting
his own stage play) mean to wash all this down with as much lurid teen sex
necrophilia and S&M as they can cram into an art film but there's something
a little too earnestly deliberate about their attempts to be crude and
salacious. Their Marquis is an entertaining enough fellow but he starts to
wear out his welcome as this highbrow tour of hell plods through its
somewhat tedious second hour.