Review: At Middleton Proves to be Quite the Delightful Surprise

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Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia star in the romantic comedy At Middleton. (Anchor Bay Films)

Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia star in the romantic comedy At Middleton. (Anchor Bay Films)

At Middleton, starring Academy Award nominees Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia, is a romantic comedy about two strangers and their unconventional journey to uncovering their true desires and a glimpse of what their lives can be if they follow their hearts.

The film begins by introducing Edith (Farmiga) and George (Garcia) as they drive their respective children to an orientation tour at the fictional Middleton College. From the car ride at the very beginning, familial issues surface and become obvious, which sets the stage for what is to come. Coincidentally, George and Edith both happen to be in the same orientation group. Edith and George need to step away from the group, and when they run into each other, decide to leave their kids behind and explore the school together.

Without giving too much away, it is then that their story begins, and as they spend time together, difficult truths about their family lives and relationships with their children come to light, as well as their own unhappiness with their lives. This leads them to bond in a way neither of them expected. At first, it seems like George and Edith are complete opposites – George being a bow-tie wearing cardiovascular surgeon and Edith being an eccentric kid’s furniture retailer, but they soon find out they have more in common with each other than they could have ever imagined.

It’s refreshing
Nowadays, with such an immense focus on dark, violent epics and superhero films, it was pleasantly surprising to see a film set in contemporary American society that explores an honest portrayal of modern family issues. The film discusses how children influence the family dynamic, and how, as they grow old and leave home, parents are then left by themselves, and not always truly know the person they have lived with for the past 18 years.

Farmiga and Garcia have great chemistry
Not only is the plot unique, but the chemistry between Farmiga and Garcia is phenomenal. They play off each other in all their scenes, especially while they are exploring the campus. It didn’t seem forced, as is the case with many romantic comedies of recent years.

It has interesting character development
From the first scene in which the four main characters in the film are introduced, to the very last scene, this film keeps you wanting to know more. You are always engaged in the film because you come to genuinely care about each character. Young or old, married or single, the plot explores the lives of its characters in a way that most of us can relate to.

It’s a romantic comedy that is actually funny
This film did not need to employ crude or slapstick-type comedy in order to get cheap laughs. The humor in the film is very clever, and well-scripted. Despite emotional and social setbacks that the characters experience, the film still had a very light feel to it, which is always welcome.

Product placement
It’s understood that product placement is not only common in feature films, but in many cases with low budget films like this one, it is undeniably necessary. That said, this film had so much product placement that it may even become distracting for some viewers.

Overall, this was an excellent film with something to offer for everyone in the family. It was filmed in 20 days and had a very small budget of about $2.5 million, which makes the final product even more impressive. This film not only explores many prevalent problems among married couples and their family lives, but it also depicts the potential consequences and heartbreak that can come from seeking a change. This type of honest cinematographic work is rare, and definitely worthwhile to experience.


At Middleton
Anchor Bay Films
Now playing at Sundance Sunset Cinemas West Hollywood and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena

4 stars

Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).

Edison Millan is a Senior Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter: @edison_millan
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