Film Scouts Reviews

"Inventing the Abbotts"

by Leslie Rigoulot

Buy this video from

Books from
Buy The Book.

Music from
Buy The Soundtrack.

Maybe it was the trailers that made me think "Inventing the Abbotts" was going to be some bit of fluff about teens in the Fifties, an R-rated "Happy Days". After all, Richie Cunningham (AKA Ron Howard) is one of the producers. Well, that was before I watched Pat O'Connor work his magic. If you enjoyed this director's "Circle of Friends", which gave Minnie Driver her big break, then you'll love the Abbotts. Three beautiful, wealthy women/girls, and two handsome working-class men/boys explore identity and love in the 1957 American Midwest. Liv Tyler takes center stage as the youngest of the Abbott girls who falls for Joaquin Phoenix, the clunky younger brother. As older brother Jacey Holt, Billy Crudup inflames the production with his love, envy, and hatred of the Abbotts.

This could easily have turned into "Peyton Place", but it didn't. When the older generation's secrets provide the undercurrent for the romantic plot twists, director O'Connor keeps the film focused on the class differences rather than the potentially melodramatic moments. Will Patton, making a career of playing hate-able sorts, certainly excels as the father determined to control his daughters. The wonderful Kathy Bates (from TV's "Picket Fences") adds immeasurably to the production as the boy's loving mom. She illuminates a poignancy, understanding, and determination that is rare for screen moms.

"Inventing the Abbotts" will remind you of the first time you realized that all things were not as they seemed. It is more than a coming-of-age film. We're reminded of pre-revolution-America sex; what being a woman with few options was. No, O'Connor hasn't created a bit of fluff, but a portrait of a complex time gone by that we may have, mistakenly, mentally remade into a bit of fluff. Rated R, Twentieth Century Fox.

Back to Inventing the Abbotts

Back to the Press Room

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.