Meryl Streep Shines Once Again in It's Complicated
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2009 12 Dec
DVD Release Date: April 27, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2009
Rating: R (for some drug content and sexuality)
Genre: Romantic comedy/Drama
Run Time: 118 min.
Director: Nancy Meyers
Actors: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell, Rita Wilson, Alexandra Wentworth, Hunter Parrish, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Mary Kay Place, Zoe Kazan
Yes, Meryl Streep is officially 3 for 3 this year.
Between serving up a pitch-perfect portrayal of Julia Child in this summer's delightful Julie & Julia, voicing George Clooney's foxy wife in Wes Anderson's equally beguiling Fantastic Mr. Fox and proving that 50 is apparently the new 30 in the saucy rom-com It's Complicated, it's been another dazzling year in cinema for the Oscar winner.
Given writer/director Nancy Meyers' love of strong female protagonists of a certain age (see Helen Hunt in What Women Want and Diane Keaton in Father of the Bride and Something's Gotta Give) Streep is perfectly cast as Jane, a self-assured, accomplished fifty-something (and doting mother of three successful, well-adjusted adult children) who's finally learned how to be divorced after a decade.
Now mind you, Meyers is really the master of crafting the ultimate female fantasy (see The Holiday and those aforementioned movies I referenced). While most women would probably still be a little resentful about their hubby ditching them for a much-younger woman like Agness (Lake Bell), Jane has an unfussy and mostly amicable relationship with her wealthy ex, Jake (Alec Baldwin).
And thanks to her burgeoning business venture as the owner of a popular bakery, not to mention the sweet settlement she was probably awarded in the divorce, Jane leads a pretty charmed life in upscale Santa Barbara. Truth be told, being a single lady doin' it for herself has never looked quite so appealing in a strictly superficial sense.
Not only does Jane have a gorgeous sprawling estate straight out of Architectural Digest (incidentally, the camera loves to pan slowly through every breathtaking room), but she's the sort of independent woman who has no trouble tending her own vegetable garden or whipping up a fabulous roast chicken dinner at a moment's notice for family and friends. Oh, and have I mentioned that she has terrific comedic timing, too?
Scene after scene, she's virtually no worse for the wear post-divorce, except for in the relationship/sex department, something her equally glamorous friends point out regularly. Once Jane's son's graduation rolls around in New York City, well, that all changes. After enjoying many, many drinks with her ex when their kids have made other plans for the evening, the former husband and wife head upstairs and have what Jake calls "smokin' hot sex."
Of course, Jane equally loves and hates being "the other woman" in the scenario, but her friends cheer her own, claiming "she had him first." While Jane clearly has reservations about cheating with her former spouse, once the exes start figuring out how it all went wrong the first time, well, she's beginning to hope that maybe, just maybe, there's a happy-ever-after ending for her love life as well.
Conveniently, Jake's marriage to Agness isn't all that great either. Not only did she cheat on him (and conceive her five-year-old son who's skeptically watching every move Jake makes), but she consistently treats him poorly and is more concerned about having another baby than anything else. That makes the prospect of reuniting with Jane all the more tempting—for him and the audience.
Adding an additional layer of tension (and really, the struggles presented in the script aren't "complicated" as much as a little dramatic) is that Jane has also been going on a few dates with her architect Adam (Steve Martin) from time to time. Unlike her gregarious ex, he's a sweet, mild-mannered guy who's still recovering from his own divorce two years ago. While Adam usually goes for the younger ladies, he's enchanted with Jane because she's got some actual life experience along with her beauty—novel concept, huh?
So with two guys fighting over her, a business to run and children to obsess about, Jane has an enviable and full life—or that's what Meyers hopes the audience will believe anyway. Truth be told, many of the situations created here have little basis in most people's reality. But there are some moments of genuine emotion (loss, regret and otherwise) that dig beneath the surface of what happens when the promises made at the altar don't last for the long haul.
It's those instances where It's Complicated is elevated from funny and well-meaning wish fulfillment to something more meaningful for anyone who's ever experienced the horrors of divorce or knows someone who has. And for Meryl, it's yet another opportunity to showcase why she's often regarded as today's best working actress.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Copious amounts of social drinking, including one situation that leads to Jane's and Jake's future sexual escapades. In one extended scene played for laughs, Jane and Adam share a joint.
- Language/Profanity: Surprisingly light for an R-rated movie. A couple of instances where the Lord's name is exclaimed, plus a couple of minor expletives.
- Sex/Nudity: Sex is a frequent subject among the over-50 set in this movie. There's some frank discussion about the lack thereof in Jane's life before reconnecting with Jake. Fertility is another common topic since Jake and his much-younger wife Agness are having trouble trying to conceive. None of the future sex scenes between Jane and Jack are particularly explicit, mostly just foreplay is shown. Jake, who is shirtless in a few scenes (almost as a joke, given his chubby physique), accidentally flashes Adam on Skype while Jane is in the bathroom (his bare bottom is shown).
- Violence: Nothing that's not of a comedic nature.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.