Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Things just get dragged out way too slowly in this one, 5 Jan 2004
This review is from: Inventing the Abbotts [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Every once in a while there is a rude reminder that where I live is, relatively speaking, in the backwaters of the country. In 1997 I must have seen the trailer for "Inventing the Abbotts" a half-dozen times, but the film never came here, so I never had to actually decide if I would pay money to see it in a movie theater or not, although clearly I took my time in getting around to finally watching it. Of course, now the cast of "Inventing the Abbotts" is much more recognizable than it was back then, with Jennifer Connolly being an Oscar winner, Joaquin Phoenix an Oscar nominee, Billy Crudup having traded Penny Lane for a case of beer, and Liv Tyler becoming mortal to marry the King of Gondor. But it is not that difficult to think back to when they were relatively known faces.
The greatest strength of this film is the original score by Michael Kamen, which consistently gave scenes and moments of this film a power that was beyond what the script and the actors were providing. The story is about the Abbotts, a rich family in the 1950s living in a small Illinois town with three daughters, and the Holts brothers, Doug (Phoenix" and J.C. (Crudup). The former is the narrator of the tale, while the later is "addicted" to the Abbotts, attempting to blot out a grievance against the family by seducing the daughters. Doug is more fascinated with J.C.'s story than with his own, but it is Doug that is of more interest to us, especially with his affection for young Pamela Abbott (Tyler), which is momentarily forgotten for a while by his lust for Eleanor (Connelly).
Basically this is a film that gives every indication that Doug and Pamela should end up together and be allowed to live as happily every after as their tortured families and histories might allow, but J.C. and his obsession keeps getting in the way. Meanwhile some of the secrets hidden by each family are doled out bit by bit, completing the picture of the animosity that exists between the Abbotts and the Holts. Lloyd Abbott (Will Patton) knows all about marrying into a rich family, and he is not going to allow that to happen with his daughters, but he is just one of several roadblocks that stands between any of these characters and some home of happiness.
One thing for sure is that "Inventing the Abbotts" is set in a slower time. The pacing of the film is slow, the dialogue is spoken in slow and measured terms, the narration is redundant repetitive, and you become convinced we are never going to get to where the film should end because it will slowly grind to a complete halt. If it were not for our affection towards Pamela, Kathy Baker's performance as the boy's mom, and Kamen's score, I might have given up on this film, especially when Eleanor was shipped away by her father as soon as she had given the story some energy. But by that time we learn that J.C. has committed the greatest possible sin against his brother, I was at least ticked off enough to stay around for the end. The fault for this lies with director Pat O'Connor, especially since he showed in his previous effort, "Circle of Friends," that he can breath live into a story. However, he failed to do that here.
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