Judge William Lee flirted with a 40-year-old once. She gave him a cookie because he was so cute doing it.
Boy. Oh boy…
Veteran television actress Heather Locklear (Melrose Place) plays a woman experiencing a mid-life romantic crisis in Flirting with Forty. Produced for the Lifetime Network, this made-for-TV movie is based on a popular book by novelist Jane Porter, who specializes in contemporary romance and chick-lit. In other words: this movie was not made for me.
Jackie Laurens (Locklear) is an interior designer and recently divorced mother of two. On her 40th birthday she vacations alone in Hawaii where she has a fling with Kyle (Robert Buckley, Lipstick Jungle), 27, hunk, surfing instructor. Is their romance more than a one-night stand? Will Jackie's friends and family disapprove of her choice for a new lover? Can their love overcome the age gap? Let's face it, fans of this genre are not looking for a dose of reality and they don't keep coming back to have their vicarious hearts broken. The point of the exercise is the chemistry between the couple and what trials they'll encounter to reach the predictable ending.
The book is said to be based on the real life story of its author. Being unfamiliar with the source material and Ms. Porter's biography, I can only comment on her protagonist's story as it's told in this movie. Jackie's life is presented like domestic fantasy for women. She has a big house and a successful career, though we don't see her doing anything except answer a few phone calls. She has two children—William plays basketball, Jessica practices ballet—who are cute enough to make your teeth hurt. She has a gaggle of girlfriends, including Kristine (Vanessa Williams, Candyman) who is her confidante and enabler. Also important, her ex-husband is consistently a jerk so Jackie has no lingering feelings for him. Jackie has all that a mature woman should have, plus she gets to be "young" again when she's swept off her feet by a new lover.
Heather Locklear carries the movie with her charisma. Her role is predictable but she brings life and vulnerability to her character's situation. Robert Buckley is fine as the dreamy hunk, though I don't buy him as 27. Their scenes together seem more friendly than passionate, but this is the kind of movie where the camera looks away while the lovers kiss.
Even if you're a little restless with the tepid drama that unfolds, director Mikael Salomon (A&E's The Andromeda Strain) keeps things moving at a brisk pace. Jackie and Kyle's romance hits speed bumps rather than significant obstacles and no dilemma is allowed to linger longer than one or two scenes before it's put to bed. No one has touched the remote, it only seems like the movie is playing at double speed.
There isn't anything unique or particularly compelling about Flirting with Forty. It's a familiar story told rather blandly. Where the dramatic tension should be—the couple's age difference, the disapproval of Jackie's friends—there isn't any. Some filming was done in Hawaii but, despite some scenes at the beach, the cinematography doesn't convey the sun-drenched exoticness of the island landscape.
Sony has given Flirting with Forty a standard DVD transfer without extras. The 1.78:1 anamorphic picture is clean and acceptably sharp. However, the colors have a warm bias that tends to make the skin tones a touch too close to red. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio uses the rear channels to mirror the music and environmental sound effects. Dialogue is strong and clear.
Clearly, I'm not the intended viewer for this kind of movie and it's possible that fans of the book might be more forgiving. For them, here is a very safe telling of a reckless love affair that doesn't actually risk too much.
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