TNT keeps up its reputation for telepic quality with “Foreign Affairs,” as Joanne Woodward and Brian Dennehy make funny, affecting romance.
Woodward is sensational as Vinnie Miner, the bookish heroine of the Alison Lurie novel adapted here by Chris Bryant. A spinsterish divorcee, Miner is an English prof doing reasearch in London. On the plane crossing the pond, she lands a seat next to Chuck Mumpson (Dennehy), an outsized Oklahoman who’s just been fired/retired from his sewage engineer job.
With a plenty of time and money on his hands, he sets his gunsights on Vinnie. Only problem is, she can’t stand the dumb lug. Or so she says. As her gay Brit friend Edwin (a hilarious Ian Richardson) observes, “The lady doth protest too much.”
Chuck persists. Vinnie stops protesting. As he hunts the countryside for his ancestors, she winds up tagging along. Opposities attract, but Woodward and Dennehy do more than that. They tranform the relationship, as Lurie so skillfully charts it, from comedy to drama. They make it real.
Jim O’Brien’s direction is scenic and a little touristy, maxing out on the sights of Blighty. And the subplot — a romance between Eric Stoltz and Stephanie Beacham — gets lost. No matter. The main tale is one of love and redemption, with a silvery hue. So what if the young kids get upstaged by a couple of old pros?