Sex and the Cotswolds


Directed by John McKay

(Andie MacDowell, Imelday Staunton, Anna Chancellor)


Writer/director John McKay’s first feature-length film is an ode to the strong bonds of female friendship. My first question, I think justified, was “what the hell does John McKay know about bonds among women?” Obviously, McKay’s done his homework.

Set in the rolling green hills of the English countryside, Crush is an Anglofied Sex and the City, its female protagonists sharply reminiscent of the HBO series’ dauntless foursome. McKay proves he does indeed know a thing or two about female friendships, even if he may have learned it from popular American television.

For example, McKay knows that single women in their 40s have an overwhelming need to convene at least once a week to bemoan the desperate conditions of their fledgling love lives. Kate (Andie MacDowell) is the American headmistress at the small community’s private school. She wanders into baby stores on weekends, sadly fondling tiny sleepers and blankets. Molly (Anna Chancellor) is the town’s sexy general practitioner. She knows what she wants and won’t waste time on men who don’t pay for dinner or put out. Janine (Imelda Staunton) is the balanced, maternal police chief whose hobbies include pottery, tai chi and being perfect.

The weekly gin and cigarette buffets are the most entertaining part of the film. They’re pissing contests to determine who’s had the most humiliating romantic failure, the winner crowned, “Saddest Fuck of the Week” and given a large box of what looks like England’s answer to KitKats. Unfortunately, they end much too abruptly. When Kate starts seeing Jed, a church organist half her age, Molly and Janine do everything in their power to slap their friend back to her senses, including videotaping Moll’s attempts to seduce Jed.

The result is a romantic structure so typical it borders on ridiculous. Kate catches Jed and Molly in the act. Fight ensues. Jed walks out and into the path of an enormous semi-truck. (In a small English village? Whatever.) The tragic turn of events allow Kate, Molly and Janine to forgive and start anew, only this time they’re boring. The actresses, god bless them, try their damndest to make this film real and original. They’re skilled professionals who’ve done great work in many other films. Just not this one.

-Lora Barstad


Crush opens at the Lagoon this Friday.