ANATOMY OF A SEDUCTION
US, 1979, 100 minutes, Colour.
Susan Flannery, Jameson Parker, Rita Moreno, Ed Nelson.
Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern.
Anatomy of a Seduction is a rather sensational title for a competent telemovie. It shows a career woman at mid-life coping with her emotional needs. She's thrown together with the son of a friend who pursues her romantically. While the material is that of soap opera and seems the potential for superficial treatment, the screenplay gives it intelligent treatment and the film has excellent performances from Susan Flannery and Jameson Parker (A Small Circle of Friends) as the romantic couple. There is a good supporting performance from Rita Moreno as the heroine's best friend who is ultimately disgusted by her relationship with her son. Their reconciliation at the end is a fine emotive scene. The film reflects current morality and crises. For the home audience, it provides some insight into contemporary situations and their emotional consequences.
1. An interesting and entertaining telemovie? Emotional impact? A treatment of contemporary themes for the home audience? Adaptation of themes for home viewing? Portrait of a middle-aged woman? Twenty year old and romantic infatuation? Women's friendships? Divorce? Enjoyable material, more than soap opera?
2. Production values: colour photography, California and affluent lifestyle? The professional world? The score, song and its lyrics?
3. The point of view of the film: Maggie and the experience of the middle-aged woman? The reality of falling in love, affairs? Accepting of the reality but not having a prurient treatment? Themes of emotional happiness and fulfilment? Consequences? Masculine and feminine roles, stereotypes? The satisfactoriness of the resolution? The emotional impact of the ending?
4. How well did the film establish Maggie and her world, her work, relationship with men, the relationship with her son, her ex-husband, friendship with Nina and Nina's pressurising her for dates? An age for remarriage? Her wondering where she was going? Her openness to change?
5. The world of the telemovie and the soap opera? The tackling of substantial issues? Substantial treatment? The realities or not of the 1980s world?
6. The portrait of Maggie: Susan Flannery's style and presence, in herself, her relationship with her husband (her talks with him, the failure of reconciliation, her shocking him with the affair), her love for her son, the ordinariness of their relationship, her helping him? The jealousy of her son and breaking into the mother-son relationship? The quality of the friendship with her son: sharing, gossip, talking about being fixed up etc.? Her work and her ability? Her aims, age, interest in Nina's son, her interest in his work, his opportunities? Her allowing the seduction? Sharing the experience with him? Love, outings, work, theatre, ballet? The dressing to go out? The hotel and the cover-ups? People finding out and her coping with each: Rick, her husband, Nina? The fight? The farewell? The realism of the affair and the motivations for breaking up, her handling of the situation? The plausibility of this kind of affair with the age gap?
7. Rick in himself, ambitions, personality, attraction to Maggie, sharing experiences, infatuation and love, romantic behaviour, seduction, the affair and the outings, the hotel? His relationship with his mother? The truth? The clash with Maggie and her breaking the affair? The repercussions for him? The phone call? His future?
8. The comparisons of with Rick? Their relationships with their mothers? The contrasts? The relationships with each other in terms of friendship, clash, disgust?
9. The father and his relationship with Maggie, the break-up, discussions and dates? The hopelessness of reconciliation? His shock and her retort about male chauvinism? Comment on her age? A sketch of the divorcee?
10. Nina and her friendship, her continual chatter, being all talk about dating and affairs, the discovery that she was old-fashioned, curiosity about her son, the inquiries, the visit to the hotel, the fight and the sequence at the airport? The intensity of the fight, the quality of the reconciliation?
11. The film's attention to detail in the portraits of the characters, the situations, the plausibility? A portrait of an emotional experience? Capacity and incapacity to cope? The consequences?