Tipsy Tina got to choose the film last Sunday. So more Meryl Streep, it was. And more tormented, middle-aged rich folk laughing strangely through their crazy, mixed-up relationships in It’s Complicated.
Meryl plays Jane Adler. She divorced Alec Baldwin (Jake Adler) some ten years ago. She remains single and occasionally surrounded by her grown-up kids. He has built another relationship with the noticeably gorgeous Lake Bell (Agness Adler), but is unhappy. Events are draining him, funlessly, of his semen – really, there’s a scene. He is being nice about Lake Bell who broke the relationship, had a child by someone else, and returned to blamelessly control him to death. So…as Nancy Meyers has cunningly designed, we are sympathetic to Streep and Baldwin. Ish.
Now add Steve Martin as Adam Schaffer, an architect with a suspiciously open face, open eyes and smooth forehead. He is escaping the emotions of his own divorce by working through self-help tapes and maintaining an edgy and tentative air in any social encounter. So far so Steve Martin.
And then – get this – Meryl and Baldwin get drunk, have utterly fantastic sex, and rekindle their touching love story as subtly demonstrated by him grasping her post-coital vagina (over sheets, you sensitive dears) and crowing, “Home sweet home.” Perhaps this isn’t wildly offensive because Streep is colluding in the unreal playing of it…
And then Steve Martin starts to make tentative moves on La Streep in a manner that deserves a slap across the face. He’s just so nice. Nicey-nice. Do an evil spell and cover him in bile nice. Unbelievably, while banging the ex for joy, Meryl starts to fall for another screen beauty of the ‘80s.
Tipsy Tina – medicinal gin in hand – cooed her way through It’s Complicated. She cackled when Meryl did her weird, empty Mama Mia! schtick. She roared when odd bits of humourless dialogue made Meryl and Baldwin throw back their heads at the crazy joy of it all. There’s one genuinely funny moment – thank you John Krasinski as Harley, the son-in-law, seeing things in a hotel lobby – and Tina brought up a ball of deep green phlegm. Dead by Christmas, I thought, whilst wondering why I couldn’t completely hate this film.
It’s a sweet story, in the end. There are so many moments blind to their own blasé insensitivity that the sweetness is contained before it wrecks everything. Old Jack was never a man of means, so forgive me if this sounds wholly bitter… Soon after the last child departs her massive home, Streep wanders the massive garden with the architect as he describes where the next massive kitchen will go. He takes her up a ladder and shows her the future massive view, which she’s obviously blind to when looking out of the existing massive living-room. I kid thee not, the existing kitchen has two cookers, a mighty American fridge and a bigger table than our morgue. It’s all just too small for Streep. Oh for such problems.
So, to sum up the awfulness of Jane Adler’s life: two Hollywood crumblies want her, the sex is astounding, she has a mansion, the kids have gone, she’s extending for no readily apparent reason, her kids adore her and visit en masse, her friends adore her, the kids are open to her and Baldwin renewing their passion, the (possibly a cake kitchen of implausibly jocular cooks) business is going great guns and no-one is trying to kill her… Just as well this sees itself as a comedy, because there isn’t a hint of drama in two hours. Or belly-laughs. But numbed, cheery wealth? Oh yes.
The characters get wrapped up in some sit-com plotting in the latter stages of the film, and It’s Complicated twists its way out of the situation with some ‘genuine emotions’ stuff. Of course, old Jack is the only one who saw the ending as Tipsy Tina was face down in the potpourri by that point. Our heroes have a touching chat on a bench – where nice lighting and money help avoid a middle-aged guilt trip – and agree that it’s all been a valuable exercise and such fun! For old Jack, it’s pat beyond reason and no substitute for the work Streep and Martin turned in twenty years ago or Baldwin – who works so hard to not be a dick in this – achieved in 30 Rock.
I wonder what Nancy Meyers wanted to say when writing and directing this film…it’s not at all clear.
If you like this sort of thing, and I’m talking to the rich women just back from Harvey Nicks, head over to Netflix and pop it on the box. Or get your butler to do it.