Director: Nancy Meyers
Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell,
Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, Hunter Parrish, Zoe Kazan
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: UIP
Rating: NC-16 (Sexual references and some drug use)
Official Website: http://www.itscomplicatedmovie.com/
Opening Day: 14 January 2010
Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give,
The Holiday) directs Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin
in It’s Complicated, a comedy about love, divorce and
everything in between. Jane (Streep) is the mother of three
grown kids, owns a thriving Santa Barbara bakery/restaurant
and has—after a decade of divorce—an amicable
relationship with her ex-husband, attorney Jake (Baldwin).
But when Jane and Jake find themselves out of town for their
son’s college graduation, things start to get complicated.
An innocent meal together turns into the unimaginable—an
affair. With Jake remarried to the much younger Agness (Lake
Bell), Jane is now, of all things, the other woman. Caught
in the middle of their renewed romance is Adam (Martin), an
architect hired to remodel Jane’s kitchen. Healing from
a divorce of his own, Adam starts to fall for Jane, but soon
realizes he’s become part of a love triangle. Should
Jane and Jake move on with their lives, or is love truly lovelier
the second time around? It’s…complicated.
There’s a certain pleasurability to every one of writer/director
Nancy Meyers’ rom-coms- from figuring out “What
Women Want” to realizing “Something’s Gotta
Give” to taking “The Holiday” and finally
now to admitting that “It’s Complicated”.
Every one of those comedies were about middle-aged people-
some may call them “old people”- falling out of
love and falling back into love again, and in each of them,
Meyers somehow made growing up (and by this I mean, growing
old) a little more fun, snazzy and quite enjoyable.
If there was one thing that made those comedies so delightful,
it was the chemistry between the two lead stars- Mel Gibson
and Helen Hunt; Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton; Jude Law
and Cameron Diaz; and now of course, Meryl Streep and Alec
Baldwin. In fact, you’ve got to hand it to Meyers- she
knows exactly the kind of chemistry her films need and she
always manages to find the right people to play the right
roles- and so it is with her latest.
“It’s Complicated” brings together one of
the most gifted actresses in Hollywood- whether by comedy
or drama- with a veteran actor whose comedic talents were
quite recently found- thanks to Tina Fey. Yes, there’s
little doubt that Meryl Streep is easily the best actress
in Hollywood these days and that few thought Alec Baldwin
could do comedy so well until “30 Rock”. In this
middle-aged chick flick, Streep and Baldwin give such effervescent,
positively buoyant performances that it’s almost impossible
not to fall in love with them.
They play divorced couple Jane and Jake, who discover at their
son’s college graduation in New York, that after ten
years of bring apart, they are still not over each other.
Is it any wonder that they will hook up, and for that matter,
not just once? Of course, that wouldn’t be complicated
were it not for the fact that Jake’s already married
to another younger woman, which technically makes ex-wife
Jane a mistress. Throw in Jane’s gentlemanly architect
and also-divorced Adam (Steve Martin) and you’ll see
how this love triangle is taking shape.
Meyers doesn’t pretend that any of her characters are
young, so despite their youthful dalliances, she pokes fun
at the seemingly incongruous nature of their age. Streep’s
Jane worries at her no-longer flattering body shape, asking
Jake to turn around while she dresses. And Baldwin gamely
bares his out-of-shape upper body physique for the camera,
even flabbing it up and down to prove his point. There’s
also a very-funny shot of the consequences of a May-December
romance, thanks to the declining quality of the reproductive
capabilities of older men.
If that all sounds a little fluffy to you, it is- but Meyers
doesn’t forget that there are real people out there
who face the same kind of situation the characters in her
film are. Perhaps due to her personal experience with fellow
director Charles Shyer, Meyers doesn’t trivialise divorce
nor its consequences. Indeed, her portrayal of both is surprisingly
layered and nuanced. So after ten years, despite the infidelity
of her husband, Streep’s character Jane realises that
her failed marriage is not entirely because of Jake’s
infidelity. And despite the passing of time and their happy
cheerful faces, each one of Jake and Jane’s children
is still healing in their own way from their parents’
It is these touches of genuine empathy for her characters
that elevates Meyers’ film above the typical glossy
Hollywood rom-com. You’d feel for Jane, the divorcee
of ten years trying to find new love but still very much in
love with her ex-husband. You’d feel for Jake, who realises
ten years too late that he’s given up on too much of
a good thing. You’d feel for their children, who had
to live through their parents’ divorce and are still
grappling with their separation. Certainly, it helps that
Meyers has assembled an A-list cast who give pitch-perfect
Though coated with a sugary top, “It’s Complicated”
knows that it’s dealing with complicated issues that
us ordinary people don’t always know how to handle.
It doesn’t offer any answers. But what it does offer
is the opportunity to have lots of fun while you’re
at it. Life doesn’t stop just because it’s complicated.
It deserves to be lived, and to be enjoyed, and you’d
know that when you’re at a Nancy Meyers film, it’s
always easy to do both.
(It’s funny. It’s touching. It’s
a delightful charmer.)
Review by Gabriel Chong