'An American Affair' is a film about two things. Growing up and finding sexuality, and secret goverment dealings. Unfortunately the film only works as the first one.
The film tells the story of Adam, a bit of a trouble maker who goes to a catholic school in the city of Washington D.C.
Adam is a teenager who is just about to find out that maybe girls aren't that icky after all. In fact Adam makes closer contact with a girl in his school but gets rejected for being too urgent, if you know what I mean. In the wake of his blossoming sexuality Adam starts working for his neighbour, the beautiful Catherine Caswell, who seems to have some big secrets of her own that involve the president John F. Kennedy. Of course Adam falls in love with her and the best parts of the film are about just that.
However for some strange reason the filmmakers decided to include the plot about Kennedy, and that does not work. At all. It is true that JFK had a lot of mistresses but some how I find it hard to believe that he just slept with anyone anywhere. The biggest problem about the JFK plotline is its utter unbelievability. The woman gets harassed by goverment agents and everything seems to lead straight in to the assassination of JFK. The plot is just so hard to follow and to comprehend that it shatters what would have been a very good film. So as you can see, the film is half good and half bad. Very sad that it has to be that way.
Okay but now a bit about the good aspects of the film! As I mentioned the coming of age story of Adam is a good one. It seems to handle the troubled and sometimes uncomfortable sexual issues of a teenager quite well and it is very well acted. Cameron Bright is good as Adam and Gretchen Mol is very sexy and seductive as the presidents lover Catherine. It also deals with important issues and has some very important themes in it, mainly about the relationship between a teenager and his parents and sexuality as a whole.
The film has some beautiful camera work in it which shows that the director William Olsson is a very talented filmmaker who was plagued in this project by the terrible screenplay. It's like there's two movies in here, one of them is good and the other one sucks ass... It's truly a shame. What also made an impact on me was the musical score wich was captivating to say the least.
Overall, 'An American Affair' is a double edged sword. The more human issues attract the viewer when on the other hand the highly political mumbo-jumbo turns the viewer off. They should have just flatout left the whole JFK thing out and go with a more traditional story. There is nothing wrong with that.