Haley, Illinois, 1957: Phoenix and Crudup are the blue-collar Holt brothers who dare to glance at the glittering Abbott daughters - smart, gawky Tyler, typecast 'bad girl' Connelly - whose father has expressly forbidden such contact. This rankles with the boys, especially since rumours persist that the Abbott paterfamilias (Patton) had an affair with their teacher mother, just after their father died, and is also purported to have snaffled the dead man's design for a suspension file drawer. The central notion of the gentry callously exploiting the labour of those less fortunate brings an element of class tension to the film which, as the title suggests, shows how the Abbotts' carefully groomed public image is in fact their strongest suit in perpetuating their social status. While we see behind the facade, the film eschews real bitterness in favour of the hesitant romance between Tyler and Phoenix, and a hope that future generations can break the cycle of deception and resentment. O'Connor's follow-up to Circle of Friends looks the part and is adeptly played, but isn't quite distinctive enough to be much more than a pleasant non-event.
Inventing the Abbotts
Cast and crew