Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Meddler [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (4 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review 

The Meddler [2015] (written and directed by Lorene Scafaria) is a Mother-Daughter film that's finding its way to theaters in the U.S. a week before Mothers' Day. 

And while there are aspects of the story that I'd change -- I do think that the title "Meddling" character, Marnie (played by Susan Sarandon), is portrayed as being WAY TOO RICH to be completely credible to most audience members.  Then the wedding of her daughter's friend that Marnie bankrolls (because she has the money to just "drop" on such things ;-) is, of course, _a lesbian wedding_ which while au courant (and I'm not necessarily entirely unsympathetic, I've written about the credibility-in-the-culture costs to the Catholic Church for its "self-boxing-itself-in" opposition to gay rights / gay marriage before) is not exactly (and probably will never be, because of demographic percentages) a "common experience" to most viewers or even a particularly "need driven" situation (she wasn't exactly bankrolling the wedding of a refugee couple from Honduras or Syria ...) -- it's _not_ a bad film, and certainly one that "rings true" in other aspects.

Marnie's a widow.  Her husband died two years prior and missing him / missing her sense of family that was built around him, she moves to Los Angeles from New Jersey to be close(r) to her daughter Lori (played quite credibly / marvelously by Rose Byrne). 

Lori's a struggling late 30-something Hollywood screenwriter who's also trying to get-over / move-on after a painfully significant loss in her life: Her appropriately aged 30-something actor boyfriend Jacob (played with plausibly sincere "that's just life" cluelessness by Jason Ritter) had dumped her sometime still fairly recently for a more attractive / significantly younger actress (played by Megalyn Echikunwoke).   Mom's emotionally sudden arrival (to stay...) in Southern California _wasn't_ experienced by (would have probably preferred to keep her basketcase-ness largely to herself) daughter as "helpful."  And mom, who of course _just loves her daughter_ "doesn't understand."

So Mom Marnie trying "to be helpful" spends the first half of the story crossing _all kinds of emotionally charged boundaries_:  She finds out about and goes to _a baby shower_ that her daughter Lori had been invited to, even though daughter Lori, depressed (and _not_ wanting to be around sincere / supportive friends who at the end of the day _wouldn't be able to help her anyway_ ...) herself did not attend.   And what does Marnie do?  She gets herself involved in the lives of daughter Lori's friends (including in the above mentioned wedding plans of one of them ...).  At one point, Marnie even finds THE PSYCHOLOGIST that Lori is going to and tries to talk to her (the _psychologist_) in hopes of "getting information out of her" about Lori's emotional state (YES, those are a couple of pain scenes to watch ...)

So, eventually Lori leaves Marnie to "watch her two dogs" and flies to New York to be present (for a number of weeks ...) at the taping of screen-pilot that she had written for some sort of a TV show.

That leaves Marnie, alone, in Los Angeles (remember she's come there from _New Jersey_, right next to New York, where her daughter has now gone to ...).

The rest of the story -- in somewhat "Forrest Gump-ish" fashion -- unfolds from there ...

Again, this is _not a bad film_.   And it's often quite emotionally charged with some very poignant and heart-rending situations.  And that's why I wish they had made Marnie "a little less rich" and perhaps resisted a bit more the temptation go give-in to needless cultural tendentiousness.  

At its heart though, this film remains a good Mother-Daughter film that will have the audience tearing-up in parts as well.

So overall GOOD JOB ;-)

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