Friday, 20 May 2016


Sony Pictures

Despite its sitcom premise of smothering mother and ungrateful daughter uncomfortably co-existing in the wake of the husband and father's death, The Meddler manages to be a poignant comedy-drama about grief and mother-daughter relations.

Writer-director Lorene Scafaria is certainly fortunate to have landed Susan Sarandon for the role of Marnie, the Brooklyn widow now residing in sunny LA to be close to her screenwriter daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne). Similarly, Sarandon has been equally gifted; the role of Bonnie arguably the best she's had since winning her Oscar for Dead Man Walking 21 years (!!!) ago.

With too much time and money on her hands, and not nearly enough time with her daughter -- when Lori is not trying to finish a script before TV pilot season, she's lamenting the loss of her actor boyfriend -- Marnie fills her days and nights doing good deeds for others; gay wedding planning here, taxiing an Apple store employee to community college there.

Of course what Bonnie is really trying to do isn't so much stave off boredom but her loneliness and yet-unresolved grief, a grief which neither mother and daughter seem prepared to deal with; as Marnie reaches out to her daughter and a shared history, her daughter shies away, unable to see her mother without acknowledging the man missing from the picture.

Although there may be another man in Marnie's life, if she just lets her guard down. Borderline retired cop Zipper (J.K. Simmons), a divorcee with his own distant daughters and a hen house full of substitutes, could be just what the doctor prescribed if Marnie could sit still long enough to find out; Sarandon and Simmons sharing a warm rapport.

There's nothing revelatory or profound about The Meddler; it plays in a much quieter register, even if Marnie's Brooklyn accent is anything but subtle. But beneath that squawk and bravado, Sarandon lets us see the woman. And like with any mother, when you aren't trying to escape her, you can't help but want to hug her.

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