Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Complicated (2009) - Nancy Meyers // Guest Blogger: Shaw Girl

It's Complicated (2009)
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Steve Martin, Hunter Parrish, Zoe Kazan, Rosalie Ward, Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, Alexandra Wentworth

Hello readers, I know I haven't been around much lately but I assure you that I am not gone for good. A few things have contributed to my absence. For starters I bought a Wii and every time I think I should blog I end up playing Mega Man II instead. Oh yeah, I bought a $200 game system to play 20 year old video games. Okay, Wii Bowling kicks ass too.

However, the biggest factor is probably that I haven't seen any movies lately that have really inspired me to write a review. I am going to see The Road (2009) today though so hopefully that will give me something to write about. Now, I hate to leave my readers without something to read and it just so happens that Shaw Girl went out with a friend last night to see It's Complicated (2009) and she enjoyed it so much that she wanted to write a review. So, without any further ado I bring you Shaw Girl's review of It's Complicated:

“It’s Complicated” is the cinematical equivalent of a warm, enveloping hug from an old, dear friend you haven’t seen in ages. No, there isn’t anything original about the premise (woman stuck between two men – one clearly better for her than the other one), but the actors bring these usually stock characters to life. And it helps tremendously that these are mature characters playing out real situations – not the cast of Gossip Girl pretending to have insightful conversations. Meryl Streep plays Jane Adler, a divorced mom of three grown children who is grappling with watching her last child leave the nest. As Jane freely admits throughout the film, she has had a hard time adjusting to being divorced but she feels she may have finally gotten things figured out. A successful owner of an almost Barefoot Contessa-esque restaurant called The Bakery, Jane has learned to tolerate social occasions with her ex-husband Jake (played with relish by Alec Baldwin) and his new, and much younger, wife Agness (Lake Bell). But one drunken night in New York City completely shakes up Jane and Jake’s relationship, throwing Jane into the unfamiliar role of the other woman. And as if that wasn’t enough, Jane starts to develop feelings for Adam (Steve Martin), the quiet and unassuming architect helping to bring her perfect house to life. With me so far?

One cannot argue Meryl Streep’s uncanny ability to completely disappear into a character. And she delivers yet again with It’s Complicated. Not only does she manage to become the not-so-gay divorcee, she makes her relatable to every woman in the audience. Watching Jane struggle with finding herself struck a chord with not only me, but many of the women in the audience. Murmurs of “Man, I know exactly how she feels” peppered the dialogue of the entire movie. This is not just a credit to Meryl’s fine acting chops, however. Nancy Meyers, serving as both the director and writer, managed to create a script with true-to-life dialogue that is whip smart funny one moment and quietly sad the next. Scenes are juxtaposed fluidly to convey emotion without anyone on screen uttering a single word. What could have become a series of cliched roles is transformed into living, breathing human beings bumbling around life and hoping not to leave too many scars. Jake could have devolved into a one-dimensional asshole cheating ex-husband, but with Meyers’ direction and Alec Baldwin’s comedic timing, you see the regret and longing underneath the swagger and bravado.

The entire cast works extremely well together, from Streep’s children (Hunter Parrish as Luke, Zoe Kazan as Gabby and Rosalie Ward as Alex) to her obligatory gaggle of female friends (including hilarious turns from Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place and Alexandra Wentworth). But it’s John Krasinski’s turn as Harley, Alex’s fiancĂ©, and Steve Martin’s Adam that really captured my heart. Harley is every woman’s dream: a funny, sweet guy with a kind heart and hair that begs to be mussed. And while Harley may seem like the perfect guy on paper, Krasinski’s wit and warmth saves Harley from becoming an annoying Stepford FiancĂ©. His attempts to spare Alex any embarrassment or pain lead to laugh-out-loud moments but are delivered with heart. Martin’s Adam is the biggest (and nicest) surprise for me. I’ll freely admit I’m not usually a Steve Martin fan – he tends to go waaayyy over the top for my taste. But he manages to reel himself in here, giving Adam a soft-spoken, yet quietly sexy air. The quintessential nice guy, Adam is struggling with the aftermath of his own divorce when he meets Jane. The two quickly discover they have a lot in common as they work on renovations to Jane’s already spectacular house. Sure it’s obvious Adam is a bit of a push over, but Martin plays him with such perfection, you genuinely want to see him happy.

As much as I loved the cast, I must admit I was just as transfixed by Jane’s house and her restaurant. Being a bit of a cook myself, I openly wept when I saw her gorgeous marble center island and Viking stove (oh yeah, I can identify kitchen appliances from a mile away). Room after room in her home was light and airy, without feeling like a museum. This was a real home, born of love and of family. And don’t get me started on her garden – or the perfect tomatoes she picked as she tried to reign in Jake’s fantasies of a romantic reunion. I poked my friend Mazzie during a pivotal scene in Jane’s restaurant in which she was making chocolate croissants for Adam. Not because I thought the flirtatious banter was sweet. No, I was all a flutter over her dough rolling machine. I know this isn’t a blog about food, so I won’t go on and on about it. But can I just say that from an avid baker’s perspective, a dough rolling MACHINE is the bee’s knees.

Yes, this is a romantic comedy, but it’s also so much more. It’s about that eternal search we all go through to find a place of peace in our lives. To forgive ourselves the mistakes of our past and embrace the person we’ve become as a result. To finally look in the mirror and be okay with the reflection we see staring back at us. But most importantly, it’s about how freakin’ awesome it would be for me to live in Jane’s house. Oh wait, that’s just what I kept thinking.

Rating: 8/10


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