Film: The Object of My Affection

The Object of My Affection is the name of a 1987 novel by Stephen McCauley and its 1998 film adaptation. The film was a Romantic Comedy, exploring the concept of Incompatible Orientation. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner, previously known for film adaptations of The Madness Of King George (1994) and The Crucible (1996). The main stars were Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.

The film starts by introducing its main characters and their respective occupations. George Hanson (Rudd), a first grade teacher at a private school, is making the opening remarks before the class play, whose cast includes the step-niece of Nina Borowski (Aniston). George is openly gay, currently in a relationship with Dr. Robert Joley (Tim Daly), a professor and biographer of George Bernard Shaw. Nina is a social worker, currently employed as a teen counselor at a community center in Brooklyn. She is seen giving advice to teenage girls about their sexual lives, cautioning them against promiscuity by telling them, "If I had sex with a guy, I'd want him to be my friend." She is in a relationship with Vince McBride, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society (the largest not-for-profit legal services organization of the United States) and a rather overbearing individual.

George and Nina meet after the school play, at a society party hosted by Nina's stepsister Constance Miller (Allison Janney) and her husband Sidney (Alan Alda). Nina has been looking for a roommate. Joley apparently put on a good word for George, explaining that he would soon need a new apartment. George is shocked to only learn that from her. It is his lover's not so subtle way of telling him that he is kicking him out. Joley is leaving him for a younger man, one of his students. George does move in with Nina. They spent much of their free time together, even taking dancing lessons. Also talking about his personal history. In particular, how he used to date a girl in high school and only discovered his orientation when at college. Nina continues sleeping with Vince, and becomes pregnant with his child, but is falling hard for George.

Nina and Vince have an argument and end their relationship, but she decides to continue her pregnancy. Not wanting to raise her child alone, her first thought is to turn to George and ask him to raise a kid together. He is tempted because it might be his only chance to become a father. George and Nina form a strong emotional bond, strong enough that, on one occasion, they kiss, only to be interrupted by a phone call from Joley, who wants to reconcile with George. The two men travel to an academic conference together, with George uncertain as to whether they should resume their relationship. While at the conference, George meets actor Paul James (Amo Gulinello) and falls for him, putting a strain on his relationship with Nina. The two have to sort out the mess before the birth of the baby.

The film was a modest box office hit. Its worldwide gross is estimated to 46,905,889 dollars, about three times its budget. About 29 million of these dollars came from the United States market, where it was the 67th most successful film of its year. It received mixed reviews. Roger Ebert pointed that it dealt with serious issues and had some very effective scenes. But that it was overly reminiscent of a sitcom, while the best lines were delivered by Rodney Fraser (Nigel Hawthorne), a supporting character with little screen time. Ruthe Stein praised the honest portrayal of the relationships, the overal appeal of the main characters and the general avoidance of Camp Gay elements. Other critics have both praised the film for its wit and criticized some of its unconvincing subplots.


This film provides examples of:

  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: Averted. George seriously considers settling down with Nina, raising a kid. He rejects the advances of a man with whom he is set up on a blind date, and later spurns his ex-partner Joley, who wants to restart their relationship. It is implied that he and Joley were monogamous during their relationship; when George gets involved with Paul, the implication is that they, too, begin a long-term monogamous relationship.
  • All Gays Love Theater: George loves theatre and directs school plays. Dr. Robert Joley is a great fan of George Bernard Shaw and the plays. Paul is a theatrical actor. Rodney, a theatrical critic with a passion for William Shakespeare. All four are gay.
  • Camp Gay: Averted. None of the gay characters are particularly effeminate.
  • The Casanova: Dr. Frank Hanson (Steve Zahn) , George's younger brother, is seen with one gorgeous fiancée after another. At one point, he is seen flirting with two women at the same time, just before introducing his newest fiancée. His reaction when he learns that the couple of Vince and Melissa Marx (Kali Rocha) broke up, is to ask whether Melissa is cute and available, while his current fiancée standing right next to him. By the end of the film, he becomes a Ladykiller in Love, truly falling hard for one woman, such that he finally gets married.
  • Caustic Critic: Rodney is a professional theatre critic whose style is overly insulting to various theatrical directors. At one point, Rodney is assaulted by an irate director.
  • Cure Your Gays: Played with. Constance summarizes Nina's efforts as trying to bring George "to his senses".
  • Fag Hag: Nina at first. Then she falls hard for her gay friend.
  • Fair Cop: Louis Crowley. An African-American with model looks.
  • The Ghost: Lucy Jane Parnell, George's first love, is frequently mentioned but never seen.
  • Hey, It's That Gal! A very young Claire Bennet, an equally young Haley Dunphy, and a slightly older but still young Lucy Danziger all turn up here.
  • Hospital Hottie: Frank Hanson is a hospital doctor and babe-magnet.
  • Incompatible Orientation: A heterosexual woman falls for a homosexual man.
  • Jerkass: Dr. Robert Joley comes off as extremely arrogant in his every scene. Then he effectively kicks out his lover and "best friend" to move on to a younger guy. When that relationship fails, Robert tries to get back with George, expecting George to drop everything for him. George has to ask: "How did we get back so quickly to the "honey" stage". It comes off as amusing when George drops him like a bad habit.
  • Lover and Beloved: Rodney and Paul. But it is supposed to be Platonic Love only.
  • Love Triangle: At first, Nina sleeps with Vince while actually loving George. With Vince increasingly jealous of his "rival". Then Vince and George have a fight over Nina and who gets to be her partner in parenting. Later, we have George simultaneously involved with Nina and Paul. Paul himself has a Platonic relationship with his aging mentor Rodney Fraser and a sexual one with George. A secondary love triangle forms between George, Nina and Louis Crowley (Kevin Carroll), a cop who falls for her.
  • May-December Romance: Nigel Hawthorne who plays Rodney was 69-years-old. His love interest is played by Amo Gulinello, who was in his 20s or early 30s.
  • No Bisexuals: George admits to having sex with his girlfriend at the high school prom, is somewhat turned on by Nina (while in bed with her), and almost has sex with her. Somehow the possibility of George having bisexual tendencies is never discussed. Nor the word "bisexual" ever mentioned.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted. Rodney is older and still gay. Though it is never explained if his current celibacy is a personal choice or a physiological problem.
  • Settled for Gay: While Nina would like to have sex with George, she wants to settle down with him even if sex is not an option. He is the love of her life.
  • Straight Gay: No particular effeminate mannerisms from the gay characters. Though it doesn't prevent them from discussing their sexuality.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The TV trailer makes the film look like a run-of-the-mill Tastes Like Diabetes romance between George and Nina.

Alternative Title(s):

The Object Of My Affection