Review: ‘A Modern Affair’

This mix of sitcom antics and romantic melodrama involving a couple who meet through a sperm donation is a complete misfire, the sort of film that leaves one wondering why it was made in the first place. Theatrical prospects are slim to none.

This mix of sitcom antics and romantic melodrama involving a couple who meet through a sperm donation is a complete misfire, the sort of film that leaves one wondering why it was made in the first place. Theatrical prospects are slim to none.

Lisa Eichhorn toplines as NYC exec who hears her biological clock ticking and decides to go the artificial insemination route. Through subterfuge, she learns the identity of the donor (Stanley Tucci) and arranges to meet him. Overhanging their budding romance is her secret — she’s pregnant and he’s the father.

Weak premise might have had a shot in deft hands. But helmer Vern Oakley and scripter Paul Zimmerman can’t decide if they’re doing “I Love Lucy” or “Brief Encounter.” Comedy is weak, although Caroline Aaron is a definite plus as Eichhorn’s smart-mouth friend, and Robert Joy draws a chuckle as the head of the sperm bank. Tammy Grimes appears in a few scenes as Eichhorn’s shrink, but she needn’t have bothered.

The romance is equally weak, with the passive natures of both characters preventing much in the way of sparks. Eichhorn and Tucci’s lack of onscreen chemistry doesn’t help.

Tech credits are mostly adequate (a cable is evident in one scene), but lenser Rex Nicholson gets some picturesque views from the rural locations where a portion of the film is set.

A Modern Affair

Production

A Tribe production, Produced by Melanie Webber, Jennifer Wilkinson, Vern Oakley. Executive producer, Marc Bailin. Directed by Vern Oakley. Screenplay, Paul Zimmerman, story by Oakley, Zimmerman.

Crew

Camera (DuArt). Rex Nicholson; editor, Suzanne Pillsbury; music, Jan Hammer; production design, Cathy T. Marshall; costume design, Gayle Alden Robbins; sound. William Kozy; casting, Bernard Telsey. Reviewed on videocassette, Boston, Sept. 1, 1995. (In Boston Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Grace Rhodes - Lisa Eichhorn
Peter Kessler - Stanley Tucci
Elaine - Caroline Aaron
Lindsey - Mary Jo Salerno
Dr. Gresham - Tammy Grimes
Ernest Pohlsab - Robert Joy
Ed Rhodes - Wesley Addy
Ellen - Cynthia Martells
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