The mysteries of female friendship are explored intelligently, if rather conventionally, in John McKay’s “Crush.” Andie MacDowell once again steps out among an all-British cast – call it “1.5 Weddings and a Few Funerals” – and comes up roses. McKay’s screenplay, however, takes a couple of risks that come close to crushing the whole endeavor.
MacDowell’s Kate, headmistress at a British private school, seems at first appropriately uptight on the job. But after scolding a student for smoking, she swipes the pack. It makes sense: smoking, drinking and moaning about men is how she and her two closest mates, policewoman Janine (Imelda Staunton) and doctor Molly (Anna Chancellor) spend their time together. These three smart, sassy single Women Of A Certain Age are happy as long as they can be together and say in unison, “God we’re sad!”
Then Kate happens upon the rakish, 25-ish Jed (Kenny Doughty), a former student of hers, now an organist at the local church. Their eyes meet, sparks fly, and minutes later Kate and Jed are hard at it among the headstones in the nearest cemetery. (Yes, she actually does compliment him on his “nice organ.”) Then, to her friends’ dismay, Kate’s fling turns into a thing.
One can see why; Doughty as Jed has the dangerous good looks of a Liam Gallagher or a Robbie Williams, but one who knows how to behave in public. One of the movie’s best scenes has him seated with Kate at the church organ, playing all the funereal classics and explaining to her his foolproof technique for getting the tears to flow.
Kate and Jed make a wonderful pair despite the age difference, but Janine and particularly Molly can’t stand their “thing” and they conspire in the most unpleasant ways to tear it asunder. Soon “Crush” is careening from terribly nice to seriously serious, and Molly unconvincingly shifts from conniving troublemaker to black-hearted villainess. The movie can hardly support such an unpretty change in mood.
There are pleasures to be had early on in “Crush,” but they get fewer and farther between. Nice while it lasts, the glow wears off all too quickly.