Crush Review

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Three fortysomething friends meet up once a week to swap gossip and decide which of them is the 'saddest' of the week – but the cosy group is threatened when one of them, sensible headmistress Kate, strikes up a romance with a lusty 25 year-old former stu


The success of Bridget Jones's Diary was inevitably going to lead to a bunch of identikit movies – and while this, and the Helena Bonham Carter movie Women Talking Dirty, released in the same month month, were both in production long before Bridget got a look-in at the cinema, their release couldn't have come at a better time.

Crush gives you more of an idea of what Renée Zellweger's winsome heroine might have been like if she were ten years older and had swapped trendy London for a cosy, country existence. Playing to strengths that are often the Achilles heel of many a rom-com, its characters are well-defined, its one-liners deliciously scathing and it's not afraid to shy away from a spot of human tragedy where so many of its competitors have stuck firmly to more lightweight issues.

Having originally gone into production under the title Sad Fuckers' Club (referring to the collective name the central trio give themselves), the film underwent name changes before arriving at the current, more censorially-friendly moniker. The title now refers to MacDowell's infatuation with the post-pubescent church organist Jed, which forms the centrepiece of the film. Her mates, motherly cop Janine and shrewish doctor Molly, both think she would be far better off with the local vicar, the Rev. Gerald Marsden, and go to ridiculous lengths to keep the new lovers apart – until an unexpected tragedy strikes and the threesome's friendship is tested.

Those who are accustomed to MacDowell's whiter-than-white image may well be taken aback as she swaps her buttoned-up, headmistressy demeanour for some no-holds-barred graveyard shagging. Staunton and Chancellor, meanwhile, give strong performances; and although the whole thing may be a bit too reliant on Brit-com clichés and female bonding for its own good, the story is constantly engaging, backed up by more than enough witty, snappy dialogue and solid ensemble acting to render this a cut above many of its peers.

Not exactly ground-breaking, but it's cleverer and funnier than a lot of recent British comedies - and a lot more enjoyable than your average Hollywood chick flick.