31
Dec
09

It’s Complicated — A Review

…A simple, non-professional review of Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated.

It’s usually not a good idea to go to the show without knowing the times a particular movie will be shown. That happened as I went with my wife to see “a show” and ended up on going to Nancy Meyers’ new movie: It’s Complicated (Universal Pictures).

The picture is rated R for language and sexuality (however, though suggested, there was no nudity in the film I screened). Ms. Meyers does double duty again on this film, both writing and directing, as she did with 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give. And it’s another in a series of “middle-aged” romance films that have started to crop up in the last decade: including in addition to the aforementioned Something’s Gotta Give, Stranger Than Fiction, Last Chance Harvey, Because I Said So, just to name a few. And as to my reference to middle-aged, don’t burst my bubble by trying to tell me that people in their 50s and 60s are not middle-aged. Let me live in my little fantasy world a little while longer.

The movie follows a fairly familiar formula. Jane (Meryl Streep) is 60-ish, divorced for the past 10 years, and on the cusp of entering a truly empty nest era in her life. Having raised three children, Jane is a successful owner/operator of a local bakery. This is the second film this year I’ve seen with Ms. Streep where food plays a significant part of the characterization (the other being Julie and Julia). After an amicable if awkward encounter with her ex-husband, and his young, trophy wife, Jane sets off to say good bye to her youngest daughter as she leaves, presumably for college. Her eldest daughter is soon to be married and her only son will shortly graduate from college.

It’s time to make some changes in the house she lives in and has engaged an architectural firm that has assigned recently divorced (two years ago) Adam (a restrained and not seen too much Steve Martin).

    

In a “gal-pal” dinner, we meet three of her friends, played by Alexandra Wentworth, the ever sturdy and reliable Mary Kay Place, and Rita Wilson, who I love, but see too little of in movies. The odd thing was that Ms. Wilson seemed to be channeling a character from Sleepless in Seattle (Suzy, Tom Hanks’ sister), right down to the same expressions and reactions as Jane reveals details of her life.

Jane has a chance (?) meeting with Jake (a rather portly, Alex Baldwin), her ex-husband, in New York as the family has assembled to celebrate the graduation of their son. The encounter leads to the two former spouses into an affair (certainly not approvable Biblical behavior, but typical fodder for this type of film). Later we see Jane on the way to an elicit tryst with Jake, at the same hotel her daughter and future son-in-law, Harley (John Krasinski), are meeting to plan for their wedding reception. Krasinski adds a nice touch to the story as he functions as buffer when things get a little out of control. He’s seen everything that’s gone on and nothing at the same time. Never is he genuinely shocked by any of the events he witnesses. Her gal-pals all approve of the affair with her ex-husband. Even her psychiatrist urges her to continue. In the mean time, she is attracted to Adam, the architect, and ultimately ends up playing the two men off each other, when she feels she is being taken for granted by her ex-husband.

It’s Complicated isn’t that complicated. Sweetly predictable, the film presents the morals of our time (my generation) as they move on to their second and third marriages. However, stories like this only work when the wife is independently well off, often a professional, and reasonably good looking; hardly a realistic portrayal. However, the movie gives Ms. Streep a chance to display her considerable talents. Streep is an actress who has graced the screen in a wide variety of characters. Not what I would call attractive in a conventional sense, Streep projects a womanly grace that is undeniably appealing. Particularly in this film, she is extremely comfortable in her own skin; wrinkles and all. I admire her honesty at this stage of her life.

Remember, this a comedy where all the members of the romantic triangle are between 51 and 64. The youngest of the trio is Baldwin, who is able to effortlessly carry off looking and acting (mostly looking) older than his 51 years. My appreciation though is reserved for actresses like Streep. Through I do not approve of the characters they play, I do appreciate the candor such actresses like Streep, Diane Keaton, and others as the portray women who, though older, still project an attractiveness that’s enjoyable to see. I can’t recommend It’s Complicated to all audiences, but as long as you are a discriminating adult, who can distinguish a morally void piece of entertainment from real life, you’ll be okay. However, next time, I’ll make sure I know beforehand if Blindside is screening when I intend to arrive at the theatre.

RET

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