“An American Affair”

Paleo Retiree writes:

I bought the DVD of this 2009 movie because Gretchen Mol is in it. It turns out to be a small historical suspense fantasia, set in 1963 in Georgetown, about a teenage boy from an uptight family who lives across the street from one of JFK’s mistresses. Smitten by her beauty and intoxicated by her boho ways, he starts shunning school and lying to his parents in order to sneak his way into her life. Bit by bit, he manages to lose his innocence, if not in the way he was hoping to.

Sorry to report that I found the film unexciting and uninvolving, even dreary. It’s made in a style so pedestrian that the fiction never begins to gel, let alone take off. The CIA and Dallas make entirely expected appearances, and in entirely expected ways. Plus I was disappointed that the filmmakers were as eager as they were to draw the so-expected-as-to-seem-inevitable parallels between what the boy goes through and what the country generally was supposedly going through. A few lashings of whimsy and/or perversity would have done a lot to de-dull the film.

All that said, I’m always happy to have an excuse to watch the delectable and talented Gretchen Mol, who combines a lot of classy beauty and performing flair with a reckless commitment to her characters. She never fails to fascinate me. Here, she’s ungallantly photographed — her beautiful flesh looks blotchy and raw most of the time. It isn’t dramatically inappropriate, but it still seems a shame. Despite the film’s shortcomings she makes a wonderfully luscious sacrificial lamb.

Bonus link:

  • The good true-crime TV series “Hardcover Mysteries” has an episode about the 1964 murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer, the real-life artist and JFK-mistress who Gretchen Mol’s character is based on. It’s a dizzying, almost Ross Thomas-worthy peek into the way our elites once worked, and to some extent may still work. The Wife and I caught the episode on Netflix Instant.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog 2Blowhards.com. Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Movies, Performers, Politics and Economics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to “An American Affair”

  1. Toddy cat says:

    Mol really gets the early-sixties look right, but she’s a lot better looking than Meyer was. Incidentally, Meyer claimed that she had JFK doing acid in the White House – just what you want to hear about the man who controls the largest nuclear arsenal (at the time) on the planet. I hate to admit it, as a one-time fan of the guy, but it’s starting to look like Kennedy’s tenure in the White House was a disaster of epic proportions, in several different ways, with a narrowly averted nuclear war only being the tip of the iceberg. And it could have been worse.


  2. Meyer may not have been in Gretchen’s league looks-wise, but in the documentary footage and stills she didn’t have anything to apologize for, IMHO. Yeah, fascinating about JFK and Meyer and acid, no? He was a real swinger, or at least a rich college boy who couldn’t see why he shouldn’t indulge himself, I guess. Did you enjoy “An American Affair” more than I did?


    • Toddy cat says:

      No, Meyer wasn’t bad looking, by any means, and there’s certainly no shame in not being as hot as Gretchen Mol. And no, to be honest, I’m tired of the Kennedys, from both the pro and con aspects. I guess “An American Affair” is kind of like “Mad Men” – the people who made it don’t really understand the era very well, but they certainly get the look and style right, and that’s something. Incidentally, I certainly wouldn’t condemn Kennedy for doing acid per se – I have very little room to criticize on that front (ahem). But I didn’t occupy the world’s most powerful office back when I was in college (Thank God). Morally, I don’t have a problem with it, but prudentially speaking, it seems awfully risky.


  3. Sir Barken Hyena says:

    LSD was still legal when JFK was alive so it’s not really that far-fetched. If JFK did acid he may have gotten it from Al Hubbard. He’s supposed to have turned Aldus Huxley on, and rumor is he gave some to Ronald Reagan, among many others.



  4. Callowman says:

    Anybody seen the new production of “The Magnificent Ambersons”? Inspired by that sweater, I rottentomatoesed Gretchen Mol and note that she had a big role in it.


  5. dearieme says:

    How very perky she looks.


  6. That’s part of Gretchen’s magic as a performer — she has these perky-cupcake looks but a lot of actual acting power. Charm plus oomph, plus some surprises, it’s a sweet combo.


  7. Pingback: Sunday Links | What Would The Founders Think?

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