at middleton pic 1

The time when romantic dramas weren’t connected to a Nicholas Sparks novel have waned. At Middleton contains some of the classic troupes one would expect to find in the genre, but the sudden tonal shift and one-dimensional characters make it difficult to love.

The Players:

  • Director: Adam Rodgers
  • Writers: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers
  • Cast: Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farmiga, Spencer Lofranco, Nicholas Braun, Tom Skerritt, Daniella Garcia-Lorido
  • Cinematography by: Emannuel Kadosh
  • Original Music by: Arturo Sandoval

Plot Synopsis:

Two unsuspecting parents (Garcia, Farmiga) run into each other on a college campus tour. As expected, a spark is immediately felt between the two. On a whim, they decide to ditch the tour and their kids to embark on a romantic adventure that will change their hearts within the span of a day.

The Good:

  • Actors: Garcia and Farmiga are accomplished actors who’ve been working in front of the camera for years. Even though they don’t have much to work with here, they do a fantastic job of making you enjoy the ride. The motivations of the daughter (Taissa Farmiga) are a little beaten down on the audience, but the actress makes the character pop. It’s enough to make you dislike her but eventually feel sympathy for this emotionally wound up young woman.

The So-So:

  • Plot: Two strangers coincidentally meeting at a random location and quickly falling in love happens in movies all the time. So that’s not the part that bothers me. What’s frustrating is some of the conflicts that these characters have in the first place. It’s difficult to even like the children and everything seems so one-dimensional. There’s a point where the parents participate in an improv class and they’re supposed to vent about how they feel, but they don’t. It’s a rare scene where we get close to seeing some depth from them but it’s taken away too soon. The story felt like a culmination of scenes that the writers thought were great. But when they placed them together it feels like one lumpy and incomplete plot.
  • Direction: Every once in awhile you sit through a movie, and about halfway in you realize the director’s relinquished control over his vision and lets the actors do their thing. A tactic like that definitely works, but in this case it feels like Rodgers didn’t have a firm grasp on what he wanted.

The Bad:

  • The Score: Nothing screams “I’m an independent and quirky movie, love me!” more than the score trickling out of this film. It sounds painfully plucky and adorable just for the sake of making this an off-beat romantic comedy. When the plot switches gears from comedic to serious, the music is toned down, and that’s fantastic. It’s so much easier to concentrate on what’s going on in front of you from that point forward. The score, along with the crazy antics of our main characters, makes those scenes almost unbearable to watch.
  • College Tour: A lot of the way this was shot made us feel like we were still stuck on the tour. I know the university that the story centers around is fictional, but by the end it felt like we’d just finished seeing all of its sights. There were plenty of opportunities for the adults to discover the town surrounding them, but that’s not utilized in any way. It felt like a missed opportunity.

Overall:

At Middleton is a sweet story that comes from a good place, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The movie feels a bit longer than it is and a lot of the characters’ motives aren’t explained or even understandable. The movie isn’t memorable, but the cast shines enough to make it slightly satisfying to sit through.

Rating: 6/10

At Middleton is out in theaters now.

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Trailer:

Are you interested in seeing At Middleton?