A number of weeks ago my friend and highly highly esteemed movie critic Joan Ellis (joanellis.com) sent me her advance review of the film "The Meddler" starring Susan Sarandon as well as JK Simmons. I sort of just glossed over the review because I really didn't want to know much about the movie. Once I realized it was a thumbs-up I stopped reading and hoped it would come to Red Bank.
Sure enough it did it did a few weeks later and I saw it the other night. Stars Susan Sarandon (Marnie) as a recent widow from NJ who moves to California following her writer/daughter.
Meddler cannot describe the angst one feels watching Marnie in the first half of this film. With this uber annoying east coast accent and seemingly friendless, she is endlessly texting/calling her daughter seriously all day long to talk about nothing. Daughter Lori (Rose Byrne is struggling with her career and love life (and loss of her Dad) is being suffocated by Mom and the whole thing is very uncomfortable. Seriously, I'm thinking of snoozing or walking (probably the latter as the accent wouldn't let me sleep). Marnie is an endless talker who appears not very well educated nor having the ability to recognize social cues (of when over the top or being annoying).
She simply doesn't want anyone else in her life except her daughter and it is just not working; especially for the daughter. But she has a big heart, a big inheritance and loves to shower folks with pretty extravagant gifts.
After a couple of gentlemen suitors come along that she pushes away, she meets a retired police office Zipper (J.K. Simmons) and slowly the whole movie starts finding its warmth & magic. Simmons gives her all the space she needs and lets her be Marnie and find her way. With the the pace of turning a cruise ship, the film by the end, has gone 180 degrees and found its message and likeability.
Ever so slowly the corners of ones mouth started to turn up with a smile and ones eyes get moist as Marnie's heart and kind soul starts trumping her endless talking. She starts letting go of her mourning for her husband, starts giving her daughter some space and you realize her heart/generosity is sincere. The writer/director shared a good # of short scenes/vignettes where this warmth comes thru and then in a blink the film cuts to another scene. These scenes are not stretched out at all and make you yearn for more similar scenes (and they do keep coming).
So one other thing was there are some great infusion of light, fun popular music that in the most subtle of ways really make some of the scenes even more enjoyable.
Lastly there is this nice friendship between this elderly patient in a hospital who cannot speak & volunteer Marnie. The patient keeps smiling while Sarandon talks her head off (the patient may not even speak English/understand what Marnie is saying). Soon the patient starts making a hand gesture which seems incomprehensible.
Not sure how/why Marnie figures out the gesture (doesn't matter), but folks it is seriously priceless. Maybe the whole scene takes 1 minute but it is brilliant in its simpleness. Once you realize in the final 30 seconds of this vignette what is happening, your heart is about to explode and tears flowing big time. Love how the film never returns to this scene nor the old lady but the audience can sense its epic warmth.
No doubt this review is a hard one to read and the film is not legendary. But in the doldrums of the weak movie time of the year, this one rises near the top.