Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Complicated

I liked this movie more than I thought I would.  Perhaps because my parents are divorced, perhaps because I watched it with my mother and was trying to see it through her eyes.  I thought it flowed well and was entertaining, touching and both light and of substance.  Nancy Meyers, who also directed and wrote "The Holiday" and "Something's Gotta Give", is very good at this genre and with Meryl Streep as the lead, can hardly go wrong.

Playing Jane, a beautiful, professionally fulfilled, divorcee in her fifties, Meryl brings such an intensity and realism to her character that she truly makes and carries the film. One can not only understand but feel her loneliness as her kids all slowly leave her, go to college, graduate etc. Alec Baldwin is excellent too as her post mid-life crisis ex-husband, Jake, who after marrying a much younger, usually only half dressed, woman named Agness, is clearly unhappy and cannot tolerate for much longer her snapping her fingers at him when she needs him to clean something or make love to her at ovulation time.

An affair begins between the two as Jake tries to find refuge in Jane, with whom he feels back at home, both physically and emotionally.  She makes him good home-made ice cream, they have pleasant conversations and most of all- besides the great sex- he enjoys the peace and quiet.  Their chemistry is great and believable but unfortunately for him, Meryl has another admirer, her "nerdy" architect, Steve Martin.  He is also well cast, though purposely in a more minor, background role.  He takes her out on nice dates, has recently gone through a divorce, and is very much smitten.  Jane needs to choose between the two.  She is definitely happy, glowing and re-living, but feels very torn between the familiar with her now very needy ex-husband and the appeal of something fresh and new.

The themes of divorce, love, family and relationships in general are very well treated in this film.  I thought a comment made by Meryl's character about why she thought her marriage with Baldwin ended was particularly poignant- she said it wasn't all his fault and that she had given up on the relationship long before he cheated, using it as an excuse to end things. I am sure many couples find themselves in similar situations, where cheating is often a product not just a cause of trouble.  

One touch that bothered me was that I felt the children were too nice and too forgiving to a father who left their mother for a woman half her age.  Whenever they saw him pulling up in his Porsche they screamed "Daddy! Daddy!" and were overjoyed.  I thought that was fake and simplified and there could have been at least one sibling, perhaps the eldest, who would have a bit of lingering hurt and resentment.  A special mention for both the performance and character of John Krasinski who plays the role of Harley, a perfect boyfriend to the eldest daughter, but also a confidant who sees many things he shouldn't and reacts very comically and naturally.

There are tons of funny, lots of real and even some sad scenes, but there is also quite a bit of predictability.  I nevertheless very much enjoyed this romantic comedy and thought it was one of the best of its kind that I have seen recently.  

My rating: 7.5
Fabio's: 7
My mom's: 7
Total score out of 30: 21.5

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