A drama I didn’t know about until recently, American Friends is a 90s production that’s quite unusual.
American Friends (1991) Film Review
About to be the best candidate for college dean, before this vote comes to be, senior fellow at Oxford, Francis Ashby (Michael Palin) decides to go on holiday. Much to curiosity of many, he leaves for a sojourn in the Swiss alps. While there, he meets two American travelers by the name of Caroline Hartley (Connie Booth) and Elinor (Trini Alvarado). The women are unlike anyone he’s met and he takes more than a passing interest. Trouble is, his promotion could be jeopardized by any type of relationship and he’s certainly not allowed a wife. He departs quite suddenly living both ladies surprised.
What surprises him is their arrival in Oxford where they plan to visit with their good friend never realizing the entanglements this will cause.
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Sets in the 1800s, this is a film that the final screen tells us is inspired by actual writings of a man who met an American woman and left his career to marry her. The film is unusual compared to the majority of period films I see, however it has its moments. It’s not something I’ll remember for days or weeks or months to come but for something new in a favored genre, I did enjoy aspects.
What I like best is the chance to see Trini in something outside of her one big role which is Meg March in Little Women. Seeing her play another character is quite lovely. In many ways, she’s the same as Meg. In others she’s not. But I like her character and the ways she confronts her dilemma face to face. It’s all too rare that cinema or TV shows allow their characters to do this, even today, and so anytime I encounter this, I appreciate it.
This won’t be something everyone will like. It’s flawed in some of its storytelling, mostly by its production and perhaps the acting, but it does have good qualities as well. There’s ultimately a dilemma for Mr. Ashby and it’s kind of a moment that reminds of a solid Jane Austen declaration though not nearly as cinematically pleasing or as swoony either.
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You can rent or buy American Friends digitally on Amazon Video; at publication, it is free to stream with Prime.
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Content: in the first minute, the film does feature a sex scene. There’s movement (under covers) and moaning before they lie side by side in bed. A man is observed by a woman bathing in the nude. We see a full backside shot as well as a side angle. There’s an out of wedlock pregnancy. The film is PG.