DVD Review: It’s Complicated

May 18, 2010

I am a big Alec Baldwin fan. I hated young Brad Pitt esque Baldwin from the 1980s but ever since he got fat and old he became really funny.

He was very funny in this movie where he costarred with Meryl Streep. The movie is about a mid-50s divorced couple who begins an affair together.For me this was the tale of two movies. The first two thirds of this movie were great. Baldwin was perfect as he attempted to win back the affections of his ex-wife (after having dumped her a decade earlier for a younger woman). Streep played the reluctant single woman who took quiet pleasure in being the ‘other woman’ to Baldwin’s new wife (the woman who had stolen him from her).

One reason I liked this movie’s first 2/3 is that it was so unlike the Hollywood’s typical narratives regarding marriage. Streep, despite being successful, is lonely and sad. Baldwin has not found fulfillment in his new life with a beautiful young wife. He looks back on the family he left and is sorry for it. So often in Hollywood divorce is final and good but in this movie there seemed to be a recognition that it is not so simple. Proverbs 5:18 says ” may you rejoice in the wife of your youth” and Baldwin remembered the woman of his youth and looked back realizing his mistakes.

The humor mixed with unexpectedly candid exploration of divorce was refreshing and interesting.

Then the last half hour came. It was as though some Hollywood exec came in, saw the project, and said, “we need to shut this thing down and get it back in line with our narrative.” The last third of the movie constituted a complete retreat from the first 2/3.

Spoiler alert…

So then, Meryl Streep starts to fall in love with another man, Steve Martin. There are some funny parts here as Baldwin attempts to disrupt the budding relationship. I was praying he would be successful. But alas. Steve Martin’s character won her heart. The last 20 minutes of the movie consist of a preachy message of how divorce is good and how a man and woman need to feel a particularly ‘spark’ to make a relationship work. The audience is left wondering, “how much of a spark do we need?” What the heck was the last hour of two people enjoying each other’s company, laughing, loving and spending time together?

What started off as unexpected and unique ended up a cliche’ piece of Hollywood moralizing.  What a disappointment.  My advice? Shut it off at the 2/3 point.

First two thirds: 3.5/4 stars….

Last third: 1/4 stars….

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