An aging widow from New York City follows her daughter to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a new life after her husband passes away.
Review by Louise Keller:
Delivering much more than you might expect, The Meddler is a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting film that almost fools us into thinking it's just a bit of fluff. Writer director Lorene Scafaria writes about what she knows - her mother, which allows her to touch on issues to which we can all relate, including loss, uncertainty, having a purpose, feeling needed, love and starting afresh. It is also a splendid platform for the ever-wonderful Susan Sarandon, who simply blossoms in this role about an over-protective, well-meaning mother who is trying to work out what to do with her life after losing her husband. She plays not only a mother, but Cupid, a Fairy Godmother and a love interest - all with disarming grace and comedic style.
When the film begins, Sarandon's Marnie is lying on her bed staring at the ceiling. As she settles into her new apartment in LA, we watch her killing time. She buys an I-phone, goes to the movies, heads to the Mall and makes incessant phone calls and text messages to her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne, excellent), who tells her she needs a hobby. The film feels pretty lightweight at first as Marnie tries to tap into Lori's life by socializing with her friends and the scene when she makes an appointment with Lori's shrink is very funny.
The fact that Marnie feels guilty that her husband has left her so financially secure is a trigger for becoming a do-gooder. First there is Jillian (Cecily Strong), one of Lori's friends, who has always dreamed of a white wedding and wants to adopt Marnie as her Earth Mother. Then there is Freddy (Jerrod Carmichael), the helpful Afro American who helps her at the Apple Store. She also starts doing volunteer work at the hospital. These three subplots weave their way through the narrative and paint a clear picture of a generous and warm-hearted woman who finds it easier to do things for others than face her own issues.
When it comes to her own affairs - like dealing with her dead husband's family and the two men who cross her path and show interest in her (Mark McKean, J.K. Simmons) - it is a different story. Especially charming is the burgeoning relationship with Zipper (Simmons, wonderful), the former policeman who plays Dolly Parton music to his chickens. They meet in hilarious circumstances. You may never watch a pie in a revolving cake shop cabinet the same way again! Music twists our emotions through key plot points with songs like Come Fly With Me, Come a Little Bit Closer, Angel of the Morning and Santa Lucia. As for the mother daughter relationship, suffice to say that it changes. The film's emotional impact arrives when you least expect it, leaving us moved and satisfied by the outcome and the way each of the story strands develops.
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MEDDLER, THE (M)
CAST: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Lucy Punch
PRODUCER: Paul Green, Joy Gorman Wettels
DIRECTOR: Lorene Scafaria
SCRIPT: Lorene Scafaria
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brett Pawlak
EDITOR: Kayla Emter
MUSIC: Jonathan Sadoff
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris L. Spellman
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 19, 2016