Some love stories are so spontaneous they burn brightly for a very short period of time. One such story takes place in At Middleton. In director Adam Rodgers first feature film, A father named George, played by Andy Garcia(Ocean’s 11), accompanies his son to a college admissions tour. Meanwhile Edith, Vera Farmiga(Up in the Air), brings her daughter to the same tour. The two parents, while not seeing eye to eye at first, escape the group and, over the course of the day, develop feelings for each other as they explore the campus. Neither of them, however, can ignore the fact they are both married.
It would be easy to categorize At Middleton as a romantic comedy, but the director clearly wanted something more in-depth. Which is probably why the film switches gears a third of the way in. Turning a light-hearted romp into a momentary emotional connection. Even the cinematography and music change course to convey a completely different tone from when it started. The initial banter between George and Edith is strangely misplaced. Dialogue more suited for a sitcom than a sincere film. For the first half hour, we are treated to an off brand Woody Allen comedy. The uncomfortable humor is suspended once George and Edith evade capture by the bike patrol and wander into a drama class. The professor encourages them to take the stage and demonstrate a realistic married couple. The familiar scene of a character confessing their true feelings in a performance. Vera Farmiga did a similar scene in the movie Kevin’s Crime.
Now the movie finds its footing. The characters go through more scenes of college life, stretching out the day as best they can. Andy Garcia never really hits those comedic moments just right, but his affection towards Edith is endearing. Vera provides more of the spontaneity in the film and keeps the adventure moving along.
I should probably bring up the kids, played by Spencer Lofranco and Taissa Farmiga(American Horror Story), but their characters didn’t get much attention. Taissa’s character Audrey visits the renowned linguistics professor(Tom Skerritt) she admires and hopes will be her advisor. Spencer’s character Conrad has a moment with the college radio dj(Peter Reigert). None of this is important to the movie, but rather their scenes only serve to remind us why we are at a college in the first place.
I never really bought the chemistry that bonded George and Edith together. Much like the movie, it felt rushed to completion. But once they were together it was nice to see them interact. The idea that you could meet anyone and hit it off so brilliantly is always a tried and true tale. For me this film works best as a drama, but it suffers from having unnecessary or badly executed comedy shoved into the scenes. So I would recommend only for a the brief moments of sincere affection between George and Edith and also for the secondary characters who deliver very good performances even though their screen time was so short-lived.
Rating: 3 out of 11
About the movie:
A man and a woman fall in love while taking their kids on a college admissions tour.
Director: Adam Rogers
Starring: Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga
Run Time: 99 minutes