Monday, 27 July 2015

Thoughts on Admission

This little seen film from 2013, Admission, directed by Paul Weitz, stars Tina Fey as Portia, a senior admissions officer at Princeton University, who whilst up for a big promotion is approached by a forthright head of a special school John, played by Paul Rudd, to consider a student of his he considers a prodigy but is beneath the expected societal and cultural acceptance of the lauded Princeton school. 

After meeting the student, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), John tells Portia that he thinks Jeremiah is her son who she gave up for adoption 17 years before hand.  This coupled with the separation of her relationship with an English professor she has been with for ten years, throws Portia's personal and professional life into a tailspin.

On paper and in marketing the film should offer ample opportunity for romantic comedy conventions to take place between Portia and John who seem perfect for each other; yet Portia is indicative of recent female lead characters in American rom-coms of the new Millennium in that they have to balance between life (work and family commitments) and love (personal). 

Portia admits that maybe she should have kept the baby, and maybe been a better person for it. The leaving of her fiancé for someone he has got pregnant is a shock to her world order and leads to her admission.

This film makes all its characters have admission of something or other. Portia with her admission of pregnancy to her mother who did not know. Her mother, Susannah (Lily Tomlin) admitting that the failure to name Portia's father is her biggest regret. John admitting he should stay in one place for the good of his adopted son, Nelson. 

All these admissions lead to an overall sense of confusion in the general tone of the film.  Is it making a comment on Portia's life balance or punishing her for giving up her newborn for adoption so promptly.  In romantic comedies there is generally a level of closure and finality embellished in the happy ending of stable home life or marriage. In this finale, a clever twist on the supposed new job interview leads to a celebration of Jeremiah's new step in his life whilst Portia is left on the wait list in reference to her only child.

Audiences are waiting for a film to better utilise the collective talent of Fey and Rudd together, who clearly have some good chemistry as evidenced in the dialogue scenes between the two. Weitz, the director, did a better job in terms of tone for In Good Company; here you get a feel that certain scenes are merely rushed or telegraphed to the detriment to the end product.

However, all in all, the film is still one that is entertaining and will not be a waste of your viewing time thanks to the cast on display more than the script.


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