Guilty Pleasure about a girl who gives up the “cool life” in Manhattan & returns to her rural roots so she can be a singer/songwriter in the tradition of gals from the last generation like Joni Mitchell (represented here by the Katey Sagal character “Lee Ann”).
Allison Miller is fine as “Catherine,” but the star is James Wolk as “Noah Bernstein, M.D.” — the doctor all Jewish Moms are thought to dream of for their daughters.
Wolk had a recurring role a few years back on Mad Men and he was fine, but in Always Woodstock he is positively yummy! (JLH: 4/5)
Written & directed by Rita Merson. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH.
Writer Rita Merson’s first directing effort tells the story of wannabe singer/songwriter “Catherine” (Allison Miller) as an orphaned young adult trying to make it in New York with her self-absorbed boyfriend. When Catherine’s work promotion means wrangling a petulant, overindulged movie-music star “Jody” (Brittany Snow), she ends up dragging the starlet onto the stage and gets fired for assault. To make matters worse, Catherine arrives home early to find “Garret” (Jason Ritter), her boyfriend of more than 10 years, in bed with another woman. She impulsively pawns engagement ring, giving her enough money to buy a car and drive to the abandoned house owned by her late parents – in her hometown of Woodstock, just northwest of the Catskills.
Catherine’s arrival in Woodstock includes a night out to the local bar where she gets drunk, makes a fool of herself singing karaoke, and meets the handsome (and available!) town doctor “Noah Bernstein, M.D.” (James Wolk). Over time, Catherine makes a home for herself in Woodstock with the help of her new friends, bartender “Emily” (Rumer Willis) and a mentor/former folk singer “Lee Ann” (Katey Sagal). She also receives periodic visits from her school buddy, fairy-godmother-like “Sally” (Alexie Gilmore), who acts as Catherine’s wise older sister through her ups and downs.
In some ways, almost all the characters in Always Woodstock are stock characters, but the acting made them exceptional (particularly James Wolk as the dreamy Jewish doctor). Although Jason Ritter is funny in the role of Garret, he plays it very broad as a self-absorbed actor/monster, making Catherine’s happy ending with Dr. Bernstein that much more desirable. The folk-music-filled film is a charming, enjoyable romantic comedy to watch in the sense that you really, really do want these two characters to get together in the end.
Top Photo: “Catherine” (Allison Miller) in her cool New York clothes has a meltdown.”
Bottom Photo: The sun sets on a happy couple after Catherine decides to give up her city ways and settle down in the country with her Bashert.
Photo Credits: Sunrise Films
Q: Does Always Woodstock pass the Bechdel Test?
In the beginning–in her New York Career Girl mode–Catherine tries to get spoiled star “Jody” (Brittany Snow) onto the stage, but she botches it. After she is fired by the record company, she hides out with her BFF “Sally” (Alexie Gilmore) for awhile before returning to the hometown–Woodstock, NY–that she hasn’t visited for over a decade.
Once there, in addition to fabulous Dr. Bernstein, Catherine meets “Lee Ann” (Katey Sagal), the woman who becomes her musical mentor. Lee Ann helps her write the kind of simple songs that express her own truth, and their on stage duet at the end is lovely.