Saturday, February 1, 2014


By James Colt Harrison

A more charming and funny film has not been made in a long time. At Middleton is an intelligent, savvy, hilarious look at unexpected love between two adults. Those are the operating words: adults. It’s not a teen movie, it’s not an explosion/action movie, and it’s not a vampire movie. It’s a funny, touching look at two people who find love and fun and laughs where they least expected.

Andy Garcia (Oscar® nominated for The Godfather) as George and Vera Farmiga (Academy Award ® nomination as Best Supporting Actress in Up In The Air with George Clooney) as Edith have a fateful meeting on the college campus where they are each touring with their kids. The two parents, who have never met, play hooky from the boring tour and steal away across campus to indulge in some funny hi-jinks and carefree adventures that are reminiscent of their own college days. The are silly, free, and ready for a lighthearted romance.

Writer/Director Adam Rogers (with co-writer Glenn German) have created a witty and funny script based partly on true events. Rogers, himself, had experienced meeting a girl on campus when his father had taken him to college. They both spent a few hours off the tour. So, Rogers got the idea that what if it were the parents who escaped the tour and spent a very special day together? It took five years to get the movie together and financed.” It always felt like the seed of a movie,” said Rogers.

Garcia plays a heart surgeon who has a son Conrad, played by Canadian newcomer, the 18 year-old Spencer LoFranco. The kid has innumerable charms and a 100 watt smile that will thrill the female audience. Vera Farmiga plays the free-spirited Edith. She’s taking her daughter Audrey, played by Taissa Farmiga, Vera’s own sister in real life!

Garcia and Farmiga seem to have a genuine rapport and terrific chemistry. They are believable as two mature adults who can fall into a sort of “instant love”, act like teen-agers by delighting in the most simple of pleasures, and yet are mature enough to realize this may not be able to go any further. Rogers said, “You can’t storyboard chemistry, and having the kind of acting talent we were lucky enough to attract made my job a pleasure.”

The location had to be attractive, and a search was made for the perfect small college campus. It was found at Gonzaga College in Eastern Washington State and partly at Washington State University in Pullman.

Andy Garcia was born in Cuba and fled the Castro regime at age 5 with his parents. They landed in Florida in 1961. As he grew up, he worked in regional theatre and then moved to Hollywood to get into films. He soon was appearing in such prestige films as Hal Ashby’s 8 Million Ways to Die and Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again. He shot to the top when he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his role in Frances Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Part III.

Vera Farmiga, who is currently starring in the hit TV show Bates Motel with Freddie Highmore, got put on the Hollywood A-List with her Oscar® nomination of Up In The Air.  She turned heads in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas about the Holocaust. She recently made her directing debut in Higher Ground with John Hawkes.

Spencer LoFranco is a name we will be hearing a lot more of in the future. The strapping 19 year-old is from Toronto, but he will soon call Hollywood his home after having been selected for this year’s Nylon’s Young Hollywood. As Garcia’s son Conrad, he makes a bright impression.

Taissa Farmiga has big shoes to fill to be as good as her big sister Vera. She has cut her acting teeth on Sophia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, FX-TV’s American Horror Story with Zachary Quinto, and Jamesy Boy, with LoFranco and James Woods.

It’s a pleasure to see a film that celebrates love and laughter in an adult way. The dialogue is sparkling and hilarious, which makes for a feel-good time at the theatre. Take your loved one to see this delightfully funny film.

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