A Broken Family
There are three women in the Langley family and each has her old problems to deal with. Vivien (Karen Young), the mother, is an independent woman who loves her home; Mel (Portia Reiners) at 19 is just like her mother and Maura (Mamie Gummer) is full of fear mainly because she cannot find her place in the world. The three seem to be very close yet each is alone in her own little world. Martin (Reed Birney) who was the man of the house left the family many years ago to pursue his bisexuality but his presence is still felt. He has feelings for his ex-wife and a tie to Mel as well. Maura will have nothing to do with. As the three hold onto each other for some kind of support, Jeff (Jonathan Groff) comes into their lives. At 22, he is sharp and intelligent and sure of himself and his future but he is awkward socially and new to sex. He has also had feelings for Mel since they were in high school together. They both work at the same restaurant and Jeff takes that to begin a romance with her but Mel has other ideas and this confuses Jeff and he reacts strangely. We see this family during one week and see how Jeff enters the life of each woman and wreaks havoc.
Jeff is manipulator and manipulated, seducer and seduced, accuser and accused but he becomes the common enemy when the father of the family re-enters the picture and confronts him.
The film looks at the lives of the members of one family and the man who enters it and leaves it. Jeff becomes a friend of each woman, falls in love, has sex and loses his virginity to the youngest daughter, rapes the older daughter and has an affair with the mother. As we watch we learn personal facts about each woman and this is such an atypical Hollywood product that it is a bit difficult to write about. Watching it is akin to ready literature written in stream of consciousness—one just has to flow with what is going on.
There is a good deal of nudity and Jeff has no problem showing off his equipment and the nudity is mental as well as physical. This is a look at physical intimacy and we see how having sex with a young man becomes a bonding experience for the family. The movie is definitely a “talkie” and the dialogue is fascinating and is a key to the characters finding themselves. Incidentally, Mamie Gummer is the daughter of Meryl Streep and shows that the apple does not fall far from the tree.