by Adam Riske
I don’t know why I love this movie but I do. You might watch it and think I’m crazy for recommending it. It’s definitely not hip or cool to say you love At Middleton. Just watch the trailer for G-D’s sakes. It makes the movie look terrible (and there are moments in this movie that are just embarrassing; don’t get me wrong -- it’s not perfect). But through the power of Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga and possibly the most gorgeous campus ever put on film, this movie charmed the hell out of me. At Middleton will not make my top 10 of the year, but it is bubbling not too far under it. If just one of you checks this movie out and enjoys it, I will consider this review to have been worth writing. Every once in a while, you just need to stick your neck out and say you love something even if it won’t make you very popular.
Now that I am done apologizing for liking At Middleton (admittedly a weird way of recommending something to someone), let me tell you what I love about it. But first let’s get the plot out of the way: Two parents (Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga) bring their children to Middleton College for a campus visit. Through a series of event and plot contrivances, the two adults because separated from the campus tour and their own children. Over the course of a morning and afternoon, the Garcia and Farmiga characters fall in love with the campus and maybe even each other, which is problematic because they’re both married to other people. What does this day mean to them? What does it mean to their futures?
too many Christmas movies) as the Garcia and Farmiga characters are evaluating their past and how they got to this moment in their lives, then living in the moment of this magical day and later deciding the future and long-term effects of what has transpired. It’s a movie about how any day (not matter how random or mundane) can change the course of a person’s life. It’s also a movie about college in the sense that you’re figuring out who you want to be. The great part of At Middleton is it knows that this particular journey is lifelong and not simply something you figure out when you’re in college.
American Hustle and before the movie there was a series of previews for upcoming movies that were also having special screenings through the group. The next one was At Middleton. This was the first time the movie was put on my radar, and I caught up with it when it came out on VOD about a month later. I wasn’t expecting much but I have a massive crush on the beautiful alien that is Vera Farmiga so that was enough to get me to watch it. I was glad I did. It was like I was watching magic (in my living room!). I thought for sure it was a fluke, like one of those screenings I’ve had before (Love Actually comes to my mind) where I’m convinced through a confluence of events and feelings that I’m watching movie magic despite any flaws the movie might have. When it came out on Blu-ray, I bought it but have been afraid to re-watch it. Then last week, while revisiting many movies from this year that I think might have a chance at making my top 10 of the year, I spun the disc (as JB would say) and I fell in love with the movie all over again. I am very aware of its flaws (when the movie is bad, it’s really bad) but I was once again won over by the performances and select scenes of the movie. Hell, sometimes not even scenes, but just little moments within scenes. For example, I love that Andy Garcia’s character seems like a tool at the beginning but, as the movie unfolds, is revealed to be a really great person with a good sense of humor.
Begin Again, which I love because it’s a movie that loves music as much as I love movies…does that make sense?). I swear, I am the only one seeing the magical versions of these movies. In the case of At Middleton, I might be the only one who saw this movie at all.
I don’t want you to love At Middleton necessarily (I surely have oversold it) but I want you all to have one flawed movie a year that you love as much as I love At Middleton.