Andover is at its heart a romantic comedy with a shake of salt and a dash of pepper mixed in for just the right balance. Scott Perlman and Jonathan Silverman team up to deliver a comedy that, repeatedly, reminds us that it’s okay to love and let go.
As I was getting my schedule set up for the recently concluded Phoenix Film Festival, there were numerous films that caught my attention. But none drew me in more than the description for Scott Perlman’s Andover. On first reflection, you might be inclined to read the description and think to yourself, “why should I invest time in yet another tragic romantic comedy story”.
And, I’ll be the first one to say that with as many love stories that we get in a year, Andover is unlike any other love story you’ve seen. Dr. Adam Slope (Jonathan Silverman) is madly in love with his girlfriend, Dawn (Jennifer Finnigan). It’s the kind of love that exists between two people who truly accept one another for who they are.
None of the above is what makes this movie so uniquely fun though. A tragedy takes the life of Dawn and Adam becomes so inconsolable that he cannot live without her. As a geneticist though, he is inspired to bring her back to life using his genetic techniques. As we learn, science is only a small part of the way to obtaining immortality.
If as you’re watching the film, you feel like the story is a bit personal, that’s because it is. Following our screening at the Phoenix Film Festival, Mr. Perlman talked in depth about the characters and their relationships saying that, “people are capable of anything when pushed.” This then is the crux of the story, Adam’s mad descent between ethos and pathos of trying to bring back his wife.
Balancing that ethos and pathos is Emma Grady (Scout Taylor – Compton), Adam’s lab assistant. Emma was a bit flirtatious at the beginning of the film, but as Adam tries to remake his wife, he role becomes so much bigger and it was fun to watch the transition. As Dawn’s parents, Rebecca (Beth Grant) and Harold (Richard Kind), their role also grew over the course of the narrative, increasing their support for Adam in his endeavors to bring their daughter back. Richard Portnow plays Shamus Trout who investigates Dawn’s death and inches ever closer to the truth, with hilarious results.
Father Gregory (Steven Bauer, Scarface, Running Scared, ‘Ray Donovan’) presides over the couple in marriage and over Dawn in death, while making additional appearances throughout the film, his deep, booming voice offers comfort at the right moments. Mr. Bauer was asked what prompted him to take this role during the Q & A and in one breath, he said, “Jonathan Silverman.”
And Mr. Bauer is absolutely right. Silverman, who also co-produced the film, is absolutely brilliant in this film. As his transformation goes from “madly in love” to “I can’t live without her,” Mr. Silverman carries the gravitas to convincingly travel down a slippery slope each time he tries to resurrect his dead wife. But we as an audience feel empathetic towards his plight, even if we’re a bit indifferent because we don’t have the same tools as he does to bring her back.
And, perhaps that’s the point. I have so many experiences in my 42 short years on this blue spinning ball we call earth that I don’t know if I would want the love of my life to try and recreate me. (For the record, one of me on this planet is enough.) And over time, Adam learns this lesson with hilarious results and serious consequences regarding love.
With Mr. Perlman’s deft hand and the child-like wonderment that is Jonathan Silverman in the lead, you can be assured that Andover is unlike any other romantic comedy you’ve seen. Its heart leaps off the screen and reminds us that it’s okay to love and let go over and over.