At first Crush seems to be merely the latest film to portray a clique of boozy, trash-talking women as part of a larger, liberated sisterhood worthy of celebration if not admiration. The lighthearted comedy abruptly detours, however, to expose vicious jealousies with brutal, unexpected consequences. A trio of single women in their 40s, Kate, Janine, and Molly (Andie MacDowell, Imelda Stanton, and Anna Chancellor) engage in a weekly ritual of gin, cigarettes, and joyous male sniping that despite its occasional glimpses of bare insecurity is all good "girl" fun. But when Kate, headmistress at the local school, takes up with a former student (Kenny Doughty) nearly 20 years younger and falls wildly in love, her closest friends, rather than embrace a true departure from social mores, plan instead to sabotage Kate's happiness and bring her to her senses. In one of the most inexplicable twists you're likely to see in a comedy, Janine and Molly's ploy takes an unexpectedly lethal turn, and Crush goes from amusing, if predictable, to downright nasty, and then back to end on a happy note. The effect is provocative, though perhaps unintended. --Fionn Meade

R (Restricted)

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