At Middleton (NR)

January 31, 2014
By Michael Nordine
Set on a fictional college campus and taking place over the course of a single day, Adam Rodgers' At Middleton zeros in on the tension between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and the way new environments and unease over the future draw people together, even when two of them are married. Andy Garcia plays an uptight, bowtie-wearing heart surgeon with an unenthusiastic son, while Vera Farmiga is a considerably more with-it seller of high-end children's furniture whose daughter (played by Farmiga's much younger sister, Taissa) is eager but resentful. The two adults reveal far too much of their latent unhappiness to one another and generally behave as only movie characters would, which is to say that At Middleton doesn't resemble the Before trilogy or Certified Copy — which likewise take place largely in real time and consist of little more than conversation — as much as you might hope. Farmiga and Garcia nevertheless give it their all, and their chemistry keeps certain scenes afloat. The more generic their dialogue, the more heroic their performances seem. But much like their characters, whose day consists of blowing off their kids mid-tour, absconding with unattended bikes and barging in on a class, the film overstays its welcome. What starts out mildly charming is mostly tiresome by the time they start doing bong rips in a random student's dorm room.

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