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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 04/16/1998,

The Object of My Affection

When confronted with a film as relentlessly PC and romantically feel-good as The Object of My Affection, you eventually have to succumb. Especially when it boasts wry, knowing performances, smart dialogue, mostly subdued direction from The Madness of King George's Nicholas Hytner, and -- despite its four reprises of "You Were Meant for Me" on the soundtrack -- a firm grip on the protean vagaries of contemporary relationships.

Based on local author Stephen McCauley's novel, the film begins with George Hanson (Paul Rudd, a kind of darker Matthew Broderick) being consoled by Nina Borowski (Jennifer Aniston, discovering life beyond perkiness) over his break-up with boyfriend Dr. Joley (Tim Daly) and taking her up on her offer to be her roommate. The inevitable friend/lover tension sets in, not to mention the blurry borders of sexual preference (it's not as if George had never slept with a woman), all complicated by Nina's pregnancy, the return of Joley, and the appearance of a hunk named Paul. Such cute-hip machinations can induce squirming, but it's encouraging when a scene about a Hispanic elderly woman whose daughter is a lesbian is actually funny. That and impeccable supporting performances from Alan Alda, Allison Janney, and George's Nigel Hawthorne make Object not only desirable but satisfyingly obscure. At the Cheri, the Fresh Pond, and the Chestnut Hill and in the suburbs.

-- Peter Keough