Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr In the early seasons of “Mad Men,” Betty Draper was a bored-out-of-her-sanity housewife who became fixated on the only nonconformist in her neighborhood. She also had an unclassifiable relationship with the teenage son, Glenn, of that nonconformist. Of course, Glenn then became infatuated with Betty’s daughter Sally, who was a bit younger than he was. The show mined this awkward love triangle for all 90-plus episodes of its run. The film Blush is essentially a modernization of this Betty-Glenn-Sally relationship, set in LA and without the character of Don Draper hanging over it. The protagonist of Blush is Cathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a fashion designer-turned-suburban housewife who fills her days domineering the local school’s PTA, tending to her husband and daughter and removing litter from the hiking trails of coastal California. Her stultifying daily routine mostly satisfies her until it is rocked by her sister’s eccentric neighbors. While cat-sitting for her vacationing sister, Cathy meets Gemma Jean (Christine Woods) and her family. Gemma Jean and her husband are alcoholic drug addicts who can barely keep themselves upright, while their teenage son Xander (Max Burkholder) constantly berates them for being losers. Cathy sees something in Gemma Jean, a freedom of spirit and a path of rebellion against her rote stay-at-home-mom role, and she sort of snaps, Betty Draper-style. While Cathy does not plow the family station wagon through some mailboxes, a la Betty, she does manage to get herself hit by a car. After one torrid sexual encounter with Gemma Jean’s husband, witnessed by Xander, Cathy’s free-wheeling revolt turns into something of a ransom-and-blackmail situation, as Xander demands she submit to his wishes or else he will reveal the details of her affair. To make matters worse, Xander begins flirting with Cathy’s teenage daughter and luring her into a spiral of skipping school and teenage sex. It is not too different from Betty’s forays with Glenn. Blush never quite coalesces into the thriller it is trying to be. Most of this is down to stakes. Xander never feels all that menacing, nor is the prospect of Cathy losing what she has all that scary given that what she has makes her miserable and bores her to tears. Neither Cathy nor any of the other characters are that likable, so the viewer does not really get too invested. These are all rich, entitled people with nothing interesting happening in their lives, and not in the ‘90s the-suburbs-are-actually-hell way of a film like The Ice Storm. Another issue holding the film back is occasional wild tonal shifts. This is probably due to some combination of too-vigorous cuts in the editing suite and poor acting, particularly by Steve Little who portrays Cathy’s husband. At the snap of the fingers, Little transitions from schlubby drone to Rottweiler-fierce protective dad to vulnerable forgotten spouse. None of his choices make much sense, such as a scene where he sprints from his car to confront some ne’er-do-well teens and then sprints back, without any reason: why not walk or drive that distance, why the urgency, why the resultant shouting match with Cathy? Many of the gaps in Little’s performance—and there are holes elsewhere, too—were probably due to editing decisions, but Blush would benefit from a fuller picture explaining the actions of its side characters (or from even more excision of those side characters). Blush repurposes a familiar story of an adult so stifled by her same-shit-different-day life that she easily retreats into the immaturity and high emotions of teenage-hood just for some excitement. And such a withdrawal from the rigors of adulthood must come at a price. As with Betty, so with Cathy.