When it comes to mature-women-in-complicated-romances comedies, nobody does it better than Nancy Meyers.
After demonstrating her expertise in the genre with such films as “What Women Want,” “Something’s Gotta Give” and “The Holiday,” the filmmaker struck again — and very successfully — with 2009’s hugely enjoyable “It’s Complicated,” which Starz shows Monday, June 14, and Tuesday, June 15. Expectedly, the picture’s ace is Meryl Streep as the woman for whom love becomes quite complex indeed.
The character Jane Adler is a divorced California bakery-and-cafe operator who is reasonably content with her career and her devoted motherhood to three grown children (Caitlin FitzGerald, Hunter Parrish, Zoe Kazan), though her love life is at a standstill. That changes radically, and unexpectedly, during a New York trip to her son’s college graduation — as she reunites with her ex-husband Jake (a great Alec Baldwin), who has remained deeply in love with her though he has a trendy new wife (Lake Bell, playing self-involvement to the hilt) and a slightly maniacal young stepson (Emjay Anthony).
Almost immediately, Jane regrets what she views as having been a one-night stand with Jake, though he takes it as a cue to restart their relationship. Jane plays along with him initially, but the next complication presents itself in likable architect Adam (Steve Martin), who’s remodeling Jane’s kitchen and takes a personal shine to her … and vice versa. And things only get stickier from there.
In the hands of an expert cast that also includes John Krasinski as the eldest daughter’s fiance, who learns more than he should know about the situation sooner than others, “It’s Complicated” is pretty irresistible. Sharp editing also helps, particularly in the hotel-bar sequence that leads up to Jane and Jake tumbling into each other’s arms (and the same bed) again. Plus, a scene that involves a laptop’s active camera is about as hilariously cautionary as it gets.
This is one of Streep’s most accessible performances, and as rightfully renowned as she is for capturing other eras and accents through her roles, “It’s Complicated” came at a good point in her career … letting her zig when others might have expected her to zag, as the phrase goes. She makes Jane vulnerable, confused and good-humored, a very winning combination that likely broadened the iconic actress’ image for many observers.
Very simply, ”It’s Complicated” is prime Nancy Meyers, servicing all of its performers smartly, humorously and wonderfully. With that said, though, it’s fair to speculate that it might not have the same effect were it not steeped in Streep.