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An American Affair (2009)



Average Rating: 3.7/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 32

With a plot both undercooked and cliche riddled, An American Affair unsuccessfully mixes a coming-of-age story and a presidential conspiracy thriller.


Average Rating: 3.5/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 16

With a plot both undercooked and cliche riddled, An American Affair unsuccessfully mixes a coming-of-age story and a presidential conspiracy thriller.



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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 1,706

My Rating

Movie Info

Gretchen Mol and Cameron Bright star in director William Sten Olsson's period drama set in 1963, which details the friendship between a John F. Kennedy paramour and her 13-year-old neighbor. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Alex Metcalf

Jul 28, 2009

Screen Media Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (38) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (32) | DVD (3)

An earnest, fictional coming-of-age story is squeezed from a bitter, true-life local tragedy. And it works.

March 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The title sums up the bland, unimaginative and cliche-laden thriller/coming-of-age tale.

March 12, 2009 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are scenes that work here and there, but regrettably not nearly enough to hold the film together. In the end, this affair is definitely not one to remember.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Painfully contrived

March 2, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Start to finish, [the film] makes absolutely no sense.

March 2, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's all presented so earnestly... that you barely realize at the time how preposterous it all is. Intrigue! Cubans! The Bay of Pigs! JFK! It's the coming-of-age tale filtered through the mind of Oliver Stone,

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

gets in its own way by not knowing what kind of story it's telling, and by not knowing whose story it's telling

March 2, 2011 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

so absurd and convoluted that even JFK's legacy can't subdue its preposterousness

July 22, 2009 Full Review Source:

Out of its mind at a deep, essential level, An American Affair plays its dubious scenario with a straight face that makes the silly thing quite watchable.

March 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

Before An American Affair is over, you can be sure that Adam will learn a very familiar life lesson.

March 8, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Turns out An American Affair needed more than a name change to save itself from embarrassment.

March 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington City Paper
Washington City Paper

Even the famous M Street stairs from "The Exorcist" are out of place in the climax of this lightweight movie.

March 1, 2009 Full Review Source:

The most compelling moment comes from archival footage.

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source:

An implausible drama about some Washington D.C. people plotting around the time of the assassination of JFK.

February 27, 2009 Full Review
Spirituality and Practice

A captivating, witty and poignant drama. Gretchen Mol sizzles.

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

JFK meets Notes on a Scandal meets Rear Window? An American Affair has some promise and potential, but its main ideas remain messy and undeveloped.

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for An American Affair

In "An American Affair," teenaged Adam(Cameron Bright) goes through several rites of passage in Washington, DC in 1963. The first is a fight with his best friend Jimmy(Jimmy Bellinger) when he chips a tooth. The second is spying Catherine(Gretchen Mol), an artist and his new neighbor across the way, not only smoking, but also half naked. So instead of listening as President Kennedy boldly proclaims his solidarity with jelly donuts everywhere, his attention is focused on her, as he also manages to get a job working on her garden. But then it turns out that he is not the only one with the same viewing habits...

While covering some very familiar ground, "An American Affair" does have a couple of great moments. It also manages to get the mood right, especially around insular Georgetown, implying the details which allows for a certain level of creepiness to set in, not to mention a little erotic frisson. This works well with the movie being a coming of age tale, as Adam learns a lot about how the adult world works with their lies and myths. And I am more impressed with Mark Pellegrino's acting each time I see him in something. However, the Catholic school seems a little too integrated for the time and place, both racial and gender.(A friend of mine once pointed out that Washington, DC is a southern city.) And is that staircase the one I think it is?
June 7, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A potboiler in which the Girl Next Door meets Conspiracy Theory. Catherine Caswell (Gretchen Mol), a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who is having an affair with JFK, grabs the attention of her school boy neighbor across the street, Adam Stafford (Cameron Bright). The friendship between the unlikely pair develops slowly and feels genuine. Adam is dealing with raging hormones and a natural curiosity, while Catherine is trying to balance political forces that are about to come crashing down on her and with repercussions that we still feel today. Noah Wylie and Perrey Reeves, as Adam's parents, are just self-absorbed enough to be clueless regarding Adam's conflicts, and annoying enough that we understand Adam's sense of helplessness in the face of grownup emotions and grownup problems. A coming of age story with dark, political overtones that this viewer found to be a rewarding film experience. The use of archival footage gave this fictional tale a sense of immediacy. The story is fairly straight-forward, without trying to disguise where it is inevitably heading, but it is not meant to be a mystery. The viewer begins to care for these two people who are helpless to escape the confines of their relative situations. Adam because of his youth, and Catherine because of her choices, are both the victims of their present circumstances. It didn't actually happen this way, but it certainly might have.
October 26, 2009
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

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