Wednesday, September 7, 2016

[Review] The Meddler

Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, and J.K. Simmons are the spunky cast in The Meddler, an indie dramedy that's a great companion piece to this year's post-midlife crisis romp Hello, My Name is Doris.

The nosey, recently widowed Marnie (Sarandon) has just relocated in LA to hover over her daughter Lori (Byrne, awesome as always). The TMI-slinger constantly bursts into Lori's house announced, mines for personal details, and sends her at least 100 text messages a day. Basically, she needs a hobby. But unfortunately for Lori, the hobby Marnie chooses involves playing matchmaker.

Marnie's intrusive audacity makes us squirm and provokes secondhand embarrassment, but we have to believe it's part of some grieving, overprotective process. (At one point, she asks Lori to let her know whenever she goes somewhere and when she gets home--after seeing a story about a serial killer on TV.) So, along with the poignant undertones and emotional beats, there's plenty of juicy and awkward comedy to be found here--whether it's a slapstick sequence where Marnie shoves clumps of Marijuana into her mouth before being pulled over by the cops, her baby boomer antics with new technology, or the running gag of the soaring Beyonce ballad that plays on repeat in her car.

Around the midpoint, Marnie becomes interested in a charming fellow named Zipper (J.K. Simmons). I thought the story might take on an Enough Said scenario (a wonderful film that you should check out if you haven't), but writer-director Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) never spends too much time on any of the multiple subplots. However, this is a fitting choice given the spirit of Marnie--making The Meddler a scattered yet delightful and magnificently performed character study on love, loss, and attempting new things amid changing times. At age 69, Susan Sarandon has never been better.

( 8/10 )

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