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"He would try and tear off my ear....I would try and gouge out his eyes...cut...then some more moves. And all the time we were trying not to laugh."  -Gregory Peck on his fight scene with Larry Olivier in The Boys from Brazil
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 12, 2018 

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The story of three crucial years in the lives of five teenagers in a small Midwestern town. The working class Holt brothers are smart, good-looking and as different from each other as their family is from the wealthy Abbotts. But the beautiful Abbott girls appear to have it all. And as the Holts and Abbotts confront the timeless challenges of love, sex and identity, their struggle is complicated by a dark secret that haunts both families.

"What appears initially to be a superficial romp in the 50s evolves into a perceptive and emotional journey for two teenage brothers finding their way. Ken Hixon has written an acutely observant script which explores relationships, sexual morality and issues, past and present. And how the past can impact on the present. Terrifically satisfying performances from the leads: Joaquin Phoenix is wonderful as Doug, the gauche younger of the two Holt brothers, from whose point of view the film is told. The development of ‘his brother’s shadow’ into someone who is accepting of himself and realises that the best love is the one that is ‘no matter what,’ is made with great subtlety and insight. Billy Crudup is terrific as Jacey, the handsome, sophisticated, sexy brother who charms and seduces every girl in town, including the three beautiful Abbott girls. Liv Tyler gives a most appealing performance as Pam, the Abbott daughter in the middle (Alice is the good one; Eleanor the bad; Pam the one who gets off the hook). Kathy Baker as Helen, the epitome of a non-complaining mother, who really has lots to complain about, has great presence. It’s a satisfying journey and so accurately manages to rekindle and trigger our own emotions of clumsy, innocent, days; that devastatingly important learning curve from innocence to maturity that impacts on us all."
Louise Keller

"While one has a distinct feeling that one has seen this all before, somehow, with its laid back style, appealing cast and sense of fifties sensibilities, this simple, but quietly evocative film is worth investigating. The film has as much to do with late fifties sexual politics and the role of women in a patriarchal society, as it does with adolescents coming of age and coming into their own. Painstaking in its authenticity, Inventing the Abbotts is not the kind of film one expects from mainstream Hollywood. Not that it's original by any means, but the film's frank exploration of adolescent sexuality is unexpected and welcome in an industry that shies away from such issues. The film may be seen through the eyes of a young boy, but it's the women who dominate this film, and the performances of the likes of Jennifer Connelly and Liv Tyler, as well as Kathy Baker, give the film a luminous quality. The young men somehow never get inside their characters as much as the women. With a fine musical score to match, Inventing the Abbotts is not a great work by any means, and sure its ideas are not novel, but it's still an interesting and poignant journey these characters go through, so it's fine to go along for the ride."
Paul Fischer

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The Abbott girls and the Holt boys

Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler - "terrifically satisfying performances.."


CAST: Liv Tyler, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, Jennifer Connelly, Joanna Going, Will Patton, Kathy Baker, Michael Sutton, Barbara Williams

DIRECTOR: Pat O’Connor

PRODUCER: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Janet Meyers

SCRIPT: Ken Hixon (based on a story by Sue Miller)


EDITOR: Ray Lovejoy

MUSIC: Michael Kamen


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes




Liv Tyler - "appealing"

Billy Crudup, Liv Tyler and Joaquin Phoenix

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