Wednesday 13 July 2011

Movie Review: It's Complicated (2009)

A romantic comedy for adults, It's Complicated proves that love, lust and laughs can live on well past age 40. Brightened by sparkling performances from Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, creating what must be one of the oldest love triangles in Hollywood history, It's Complicated is breezy, funny and remarkably fresh.

Jane (Streep) and Jack (Baldwin) divorced a decade ago. Now both in their late fifties with their three children all grown up, they maintain a civilized relationship. Jack is married to the much younger Agness (Lake Bell), with whom he cheated while married to Jane, although Agness also managed bring into her marriage to Jack a brat of a boy from another short-lived relationship.

Jane is over the divorce, still single and moving on with her life, helping to run the bakery that she owns, and planning home renovations with the help of Adam (Steve Martin), a more recently divorced architect. But when Jane and Jack (without Agness) meet in New York to attend the college graduation of their youngest son, they have dinner, drink a lot, dance like teens and end up in bed. This sparks a passionate desire in Jack to get back together with Jane, all the more so since his relationship with Agness has deteriorated into fertility clinic visits and scheduled sex to maximize the likelihood of conception.

Jane is not so sure that getting back with her ex-husband is a good idea, but she decides to enjoy the courtship and the suddenly enjoyable sex with Jack, as he tries to convince her that the second time can be a charm. In the meantime their children, who were traumatized by the divorce, are very confused, and Adam is getting all sorts of mixed signals about the potential for a serious relationship with Jane.

It's Complicated sometimes dips into swampy self-help territory, although it never gets bogged down. There is also a sequence with Jane and Adam getting stoned that crosses from funny to contrived. But otherwise, the film is a joyous celebration of the fun and turmoil of relationships later in life.

Meryl Streep, at age 60, gives one of her most alluring performances, conveying the courage, confidence and calm but not quite carefree attitude that only comes with the wisdom of age. Alec Baldwin is a bit more brash as Jack, but he does succeed in capturing a man looking for an anchor in his life and naturally drifting to the safety of the familiar harbour.

Both Streep and Baldwin demonstrate a deft comic touch, familiar territory to Martin, who subdues his natural scenery-eating tendencies and instead infuses Adam with effectively comic pathos. John Krasinki, as the fiance of Jack and Jane's eldest daughter, provides fine comic support as the first family member to stumble upon the weirdly re-emerging relationship between the formerly married couple.

Nancy Meyers herself around 60, directed, wrote and co-produced It's Complicated. She finds the right mix of comedy and sharp observations about divorce, growing old, and eternal insecurities, and maintains an agile pace.

It's Complicated is a strange and rare Hollywood experience: intelligent fun with adults.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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