19 September 2016

It's Complicated (starring Meryl Streep)

I happened to spot this DVD in a charity shop when I was in the UK. Meryl Streep is always good value, and I was intrigued at the idea of her working with Steve Martin, who is listed as one of the co-stars. The plot sounded like a typical light romance, so I forked out a pound and brought it back to Cyprus.

We thought it would make ideal viewing for an afternoon when we were both somewhat tired but wanted to snuggle up on the sofa together. I hoped it would be uplifting, but hadn’t expected it to be such a thoroughly enjoyable film, if perhaps a tad slow to get started.

Streep stars as Jane Adler, a contentedly divorced woman who has three young adult children, and is about to experience an empty nest. Her ex-husband Jake (Alex Baldwin) is rather irritating, although smooth-talking, and is now married to a much younger woman, who has a rather hyperactive small son.

Jake and Jane find themselves meeting at mutual friends’ parties, and then at the graduation of one of their sons Jane is priding herself on being relaxed and polite around him, when circumstances throw them together one night, and they wonder whether there’s still a spark of attraction….

Steve Martin, meanwhile, plays an architect who is designing and overseeing a major extension to Jane’s house. His character is very like most other parts he has played: charming, a little shy, and prone to clumsiness. That was fine in this film, as he provided a very likeable contrast to the somewhat bumptious and jealous Jake. But of course Meryl Streep’s part is the most complex and also the most interesting; as ever, she plays it to perfection, utterly believable in the role of a middle-aged, attractive woman who is a great cook and slightly over-protective mother, but rather insecure about relationships.

There were a couple of places (involving Steve Martin) where we laughed out loud; his timing is excellent, and he worked well with Streep. Jake and Jane’s future son-in-law Harley (John Krasinski) was a surprising hit too, a likeable young man who saw things he shouldn’t have done, and if a little exaggerated in his role, did it very well. I found myself warming to him rather more than their three children, who never really developed characters of their own.

The pace wasn’t rapid, and there wasn’t a whole lot of plot, but until the end I wasn’t certain where it was going to go. It was quite emotive at times, and we were both totally absorbed in the film. Bad language was pretty mild and although there are several intimate bedroom scenes, they are tastefully done, with implications rather than anything explicit.

I was surprised that it had a 15 rating (R in the US): there’s no violence at all, nor anything remotely frightening. I suppose it’s due to there being a fair amount of drinking and some use of soft drugs, although mainly for comic effect. However as the plot features a middle-aged romance, it’s unlikely to appeal to teenagers.

All in all this made a nicely made and enjoyable ‘rom com’ - recommended to anyone who likes this genre.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

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