Warm, heartfelt, but a little slow. It had a nice setting, with some
richly textured characters, who could be sympathized with when they weren't
I did not remember watching this movie before now, except that while
watching it, I remembered vividly several scenes. Between the two of us,
we remembered much of the movie. To have forgotten so much in so short a
time, I wondered how good this film must be...
But it was engaging. I was really interested, for the most
part. We get the movie from the point of view of the younger brother,
Doug, but not exclusively. He does a narration, but obviously knows
things that went on while he was not there, either from Pamela or from
his brother, Jacey.
Jacey is obsessed with the Abbotts, first because they are rich, and
second, because of the things he believes of the girls' father. He
believes that his mother had an affair with Mr. Abbott after their own father
died, and that Mr. Abbott stole a patent off his father and made a fortune
with it. It doesn't matter that none of this is true; Jacey is not
interested in the truth -just revenge. Their father actually sold the
patent to Abbott for the price of a used car, not knowing what it was actually
worth. He made a bet that he could drive the car out over the ice, and
drove through the ice on the way back. Abbott felt so bad that he would
go over and console their mother, but no affair ever happened.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Abbott was convinced that there was an affair, so the
entire town believed her. And after all these years, the rumors still go
Jacey sets his sights first on Eleanor, whom I believe is the middle
daughter. She is using him for her own purposes, however. She
wants nothing more than to get out of this town, and it takes a lot to do
that. So she sleeps around with every guy who expresses an interest,
including Jacey. That is the final straw (especially after a great scene
where they are caught by her father out near the lake), and she is not seen in
the town again. Eventually, she gets to become a stewardess.
After that relationship ends, Jacey becomes miserable, but then the eldest
daughter becomes available. Somehow, he is able to sneak his way past
her vulnerability and "into her pants", even though she's not yet
divorced, and has a young baby. His mother cannot condone what he is
doing, and after Alice rejects him, the affair ends and he goes back to
Doug, meanwhile, has a great friendship with the youngest daughter, Pamela
Abbott. Liv Tyler plays her great, as the innocent and protector.
She worries about becoming like Eleanor, and so rebuffs Doug's advances, being
content with just kissing. But when Alice becomes involved with Jacey, Pamela
protects her from first their father, and then from Jacey by informing on
Jacey is played wonderfully withdrawn, a person who takes life as it comes
to him. After Eleanor is caught with his brother, Pamela tells him that
they should stop seeing each other for a while. He calmly agrees, which
gets her upset. This in turn gets him upset, but the friendship doesn't
The brothers disagree what it means to date an Abbott. They come and
go, they even get in to a couple of fights over it. They act like
brothers. Even when they are shouting, they are pretty
soft-spoken. But they become estranged when Doug finds out that Pamela
has been sleeping with Jacey, his final Abbott conquest, while at
college. She is so overwrought with guilt, and his brother claims that
he knew nothing of the feelings between the two of them.
But after the boys' mother dies, Doug finds it in himself to forgive both
Jacey and Pamela. He breaks free of the mold, and in doing so, is able
to marry her and become an Abbott himself.
There are no real standout scenes in this movie. Everything is pretty
even all the way through. The town of the 1950s is quiet, except for the
whisperings about Doug's family, and the giant parties that the Abbotts throw,
for every occasion under the sun. It didn't leave too much of an
impression with me, which is probably why I didn't remember seeing it.
But it was still enjoyable, and the scenery, while a little drab, was a nice
background to this sad story. I especially liked the old barn, which
also had an impression on Doug. The movie moved along a little slowly, but
the pacing was deliberate, keeping the conquest of the Abbotts going. I
liked the relationship between Doug and his mother, always understanding,
never yelling, and once again, letting life come at them as it
An enjoyable movie, if not too memorable.