“An American Affair” contains so many Christian themes and settings, that it could just as easily be called; “A Catholic Affair.” Being sent to see it is a lot like being sent to Catholic School; if you sit down, shut up, and face the right direction, no one gets hurt. The flick is pretty standard fare and nice to look at. But, what was cool was that as Comedy Film Nerds’ “New York Correspondent” I got to go to a screening in Broadway’s legendary Brill Building, where many of early rock & roll’s greatest songwriters perfected their art! The fixtures haven’t changed in fifty years, either, so it’s a safe bet I’ve used the same urinal as Leiber & Stoller! I’ll never wash the sneaker I used to flush it!
“An American Affair” is the story of a 13 year-old Catholic schoolboy’s infatuation with a mysterious female neighbor (Gretchen Mol) who just happens to be having an affair with JFK. Mol plays Catherine Caswell, an artist who has ties to the CIA, and who’s keeping a troublesome diary of her trysts with the president. Young Adam Stafford (Cameron Bright) fixates on Catherine after seeing her half-naked from his bedroom window. Eventually Adam winds up in close quarters with Catherine and they sling paint all over one another, existing paintings, and the walls. At that point I can hear her landlord saying: “I don’t care if you are fucking the president–you’re not getting your security deposit back.” An American Affair is average in every way. It’s a good movie, but there’s no part of it that’s exceptional. The film looks nice, and the cast is competent, but the “plot to kill the president plot” has been done to death both factually and fictionally and this one doesn’t offer any surprises. Gretchen Mol never disappoints and Noah Wyle is well-cast as Adam’s father, but he’s starting to look more and more like The Fonz, and the greasy early sixties hairstyle cements the resemblance. The only actor who’s perfectly cast is Lisa-Lisbeth Finney, as a stereotypical ear-twisting nun. I feel qualified to make that call after 13 years of Catholic School–my right ear still sits at an 80-degree angle. Whether she’s doling out detention or breaking up fights, Sister Mary Eunice is all pitiless piety and pursed lips. When they discover the first Catholic president has been assassinated, you see more crying nuns than you’ve seen since they stopped production on “Sister Act 3”! It’s the kind of movie you’re glad to run across on cable, but I wouldn’t recommend you see it in the theater unless you’re a Gretchen Mol fan, in which case you should ask not what Gretchen Mol can do for you, but what you can do for Gretchen Mol.