An American Affair is set in the early 1960’s. The John F. Kennedy administration is at the height of its popularity and yet there is still quite a bit of controversy swirling after the Cuban missile crisis. Adam Stafford (Cameron Bright) is a thirteen year old enduring the awkward years of his life when he catches a glimpse of his neighbor across the street. His neighbor is Catherine Caswell (Gretchen Mol) and she eventually hires Adam as her landscaper. Despite the enormous age-gap between Catherine and Adam, a friendship emerges. As the film continues, Caswell’s complicated history begins to return and the two of them become involved in the growing speculation about the JFK administration.
The film manages to deliver some emotion throughout. In a shocking display, Gretchen Mol’s performance is very strong. The vulnerability of her character is portrayed quite well and viewers can understand her. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Cameron Bright. His role is the most crucial in the film and in a most disappointing way becomes the least powerful. Most of his major scenes are forgettable and his performance is flat. The other characters throughout the film do not overly impress. However, everyone plays their character well enough to get by.
A catchy early sixties score runs fluidly throughout the film. A strong element to this film is its music. It manages to capture the emotion of every scene it appears in. For example, in almost all of the scenes between Adam and Catherine the score reminds the viewer of the complex emotion between these two characters. Music can be a useful tool in this genre and An American Affair takes full advantage of it.
Overall, the film tells an interesting story. The writing and direction are not outstanding. However, in this genre if you can develop a story with limited resources, you are on the right track. An American Affair is a tolerable film and not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.
An American Affair is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. To my surprise, the film looks very nice. All of the images are clean and there is no grain. The transfer is seamless and the shot selection is not overly poignant. The film does not take too many chances with its cinematography. However, there are instances that will have the viewer pleased. The distance that is examined between Adam Stafford and Catherine Caswell is well presented. Through a series of long shots the audience can feel the emotional and physical distance between these characters. The film looks clean and well presented.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound is average. The score is not overly immersive. The dialogue is clear and the score is strong. There is no distortion and audiences can enjoy the sound. No complaints, viewers will not be disappointed with the audio in this film.
Deleted scenes (5:45): There are three deleted scenes that appear on the disc. They deal very little with plot or character development and seem to serve no purpose in the film. Adding them to the DVD features makes very little sense and they should have remained on the cutting room floor.
An American Affair is just an average film. It does not attempt to be bigger than it is and audiences can appreciate that. Gretchen Mol’s performance stands out and the film manages to entertain viewers with its story and solid score.