The Meddler Review - Sweet Story of Transitions

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The Meddler, from Sony Pictures Classics, brings to the screen a film filled with the sweet, salty and savory moments of colorful and at time awkward transitions as one season of life and love end and another begins.

Starring Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and J.K. Simmons this three hander pits mother and daughter against each other as each struggle to find their new identities after each lose when, Joe, the husband and father dies.

The Meddler also stars Jerrod Carmichael, Cecily Strong, Lucy Punch, Casey Wilson, Jason Ritter, Sarah Baker, with guest appearances by Laura San Giacomo and Harry Hamlin. The Meddler was written by Lorene Scafaria.

Opening with voice over of a very thick accented Marnie Minervini, played by Sarandon, newly transplanted to Southern California, living a new life at The Grove with sun filtering in through the venetian blinds, sunny yellow sheets, the world is bright and fresh for Marnie as she, now widowed, moved west to be closer to her daughter, Lori, played by Rose Byrne.

Lori lives the tragic life of a successful television writer, lonely, the proud parent of two dogs, with no time, and the constant worry of having to maintain ratings and the show’s success.

Her ultra-modern apartment, with all the amenities, comfortable lifestyle and lucrative career doesn’t seem to be enough as she struggles with independent boundaries and her mother struggles with empty nest issues.

The two clash, often, over simple space until, of course, actual need arises and thankfully Lori has Marnie to depend on.

Lori’s unusual friends, and the local Apple Store salesmen become surrogate cause cases for the well-off Marnie, who often thanks her husband, Joe, who loved her enough to ensure that she was well cared for after his death.  

The Meddler shows a transitioning Sarandon. Never one to shy from boundaries, Sarandon plays middle age with the reticent of a happily life time marriage, the story, which isn’t flushed out totally is projected effortlessly.

By the end, the audience is aware she had what most people dream about, the sometimes over powering in-laws, the stories that really still play well in recollection even 20 years later they ensure a good, although not so loud or long, laugh, and the warm memories that could hold her. 

A new chapter isn’t necessary until and even when J.K. Simmons shows up as Zipper, the Harley riding former LAPD officer, a solid guy with an unusual life. He becomes the paintbrush that adds new colors to Marnie’s life. Her life full of residual color, she doesn’t even consider turning the page. And seeing space, and freedom to color inside or outside the lines.

Suddenly she has arrived into this life and the intoxicating California sun and surf and she finally has all the corners tucked in neatly and everyone is on the right path and she is for the first time is at peace and free.

I enjoyed The Meddler, as a transplanted Angelino, I lived on both sides and the film showcases all that is good in New  York City and in Los Angeles. Having the film open at The Grove, the beauty and fun of the Los Angeles can get lost in daily life.

New York City is pictured also with voice over as Marnie/Sarandon talks about her love of Manhattan and all the special places.  

Rose Byrne has become one of a handful of leading ladies who can switch from the extremes. Although she didn’t have the depth in The Meddler to exercise her comedic skills, she played her role so skillfully that I found myself thinking how selfish and ungrateful she was being. The Meddler allowed her the opportunity to play stressful, misguided, 20 something Hollywood success with life management overload issues perfectly.

J.K. Simmons gives another solid and memorable performance. Laura San Giacomo and Harry Hamlin are featured, as actors, in guest cameos.

The Meddler is a fun film, a tourist’s opportunity to see the best of New York and LA in a 100 minutes.

The Meddler opens April 22, 2016.

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