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TOWN AND COUNTRY

SYNOPSIS:
Successful New York architect Porter Stoddard's (Warren Beatty) devoted wife Ellie (Diane Keaton) becomes suspicious of his whereabouts following a series of comic missteps and his young adult children (Josh Hartnett and Tricia Vessey) don't seem to need him anymore. Meanwhile Porter's childhood friend Mona (Goldie Hawn), has just found out that her husband Griffin (Garry Shandling) – Porter's best friend - is having an affair. As life with Ellie falls apart, Porter and Mona become close. Porter and Griffin escape together and meet up with jet-setting heiress Eugenie (Andie MacDowell) and her eccentric parents (Charlton Heston and Marian Seldes); Auburn (Jenna Elfman), free-spirited owner of a bait and tackle shop and beautiful cellist Alex (Nastassja Kinski), who may or may not be carrying Porter's child.

Perhaps it’s the presence of Diane Keaton, but Town and Country starts out like one of Woody Allen’s classic comedies (think Annie Hall or Manhattan). New York City provides a picturesque backdrop to a series of smart people living a life many can only dream about; while harbouring serious neuroses and dark secrets. In Allen’s hands, this would have been the perfect raw material for a comedy about life and love, filled with witty repartee and heart-wrenching moments. But in the hands of director Peter Chelsom, and screenwriters Michael Laughlin and Buck Henry, this same raw material turns into a doughy mess of dull dialogue, ridiculous situations and a story that deflates quicker than a badly made soufflé. What should have been, at most, a breezy 90 minute take on infidelity becomes an almost two hour muddle. To outline the script’s problems is far beyond the scope of this review, but suffice to say its patent inconsistency is near the top of the list. The real shame about Town and Country is that so many good actors have become embroiled in this ill-fated project. Warren Beatty frankly looks tired, his character a pale shadow of his well-known Lothario of years gone by, while Goldie Hawn surely could have phoned in her performance. Diane Keaton tries hard but is still a mile from her best work; while poor Gary Shandling gets lumbered with a ridiculous character in Griffin. Other "names" in the cast include Andie McDowall, Jenna Elfman and Joshua Hartnett, all of whom thankfully have minor roles. But possibly the biggest mistake here is the performance of Charlton Heston; about which the less said the better. While Town and Country has moments of genuine humour and emotion, they’re far too infrequent to save this misconceived movie. This is one film that will no doubt quickly disappear from the city and turn up in the country – in video rental bargain bins.
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

TOWN AND COUNTRY (M)
(US)

CAST: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling, Andie MacDowell, Charlton Heston, Josh Hartnett, Jenna Elfman, Nastassja Kinski

DIRECTOR: Peter Chelsom

PRODUCER: Simon Fields, Andrew S. Karsch, Fred Roos

SCRIPT: Buck Henry, Michael Laughlin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: William A. Fraker

EDITOR: David Moritz, Claire Simpson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Caroline Hanania

MUSIC: J.J. Holiday (song "Preachin' The Blues"), Rolfe Kent

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 1, 2001







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