Friday 3 June 2016

Film Review: The Meddler

Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne star in Lorene Scafaria's The Meddler, an amusing examination of mother/daughter relations. 

The Meddler sees Sarandon play Marnie, an ageing widow who follows her daughter Lori from New York to Los Angeles in the hope of starting a new life after her husband passes away. Lori is suffering through a tough breakup herself, and Marnie's insistence on being there to comfort her isn't helping; Lori just wants space, but Marnie is determined to do everything she can to help her daughter, much to Lori's chagrin.

Sarandon serves up a great performance as the kind but meddling mother whose heart is in the right place. At first I felt like her character would get on my nerves, but as we learn more about her backstory and her place in life we start to sympathise and understand her more and more. Sarandon transforms the film from middling drama to something quite special and impactful - it'll make you want to ring your mum and catch her up on everything if nothing else.

Byrne is an actress who we're used to seeing curse and go crazy in comedies, so it was refreshing to see her move into more dramatic territory here. JK Simmons arrives around the midpoint and brings his honey-drenched voice along too; he plays Zipper, a retired cop who hangs around LA film sets keeping an eye on the extras. Simmons is always a welcome addition to any film and The Meddler is no different. I hope I'm even half as cool as a Ray-Ban wearing JK Simmons riding a Harley Davidson when I'm his age.

The Meddler is a heartfelt yarn that showcases the range of ways we all process grief, and even though the film gets a little wayward with melodrama at times, the end result is an affecting and amusing tale of family, love and loss. You can really feel Scafaria's passion come across in her writing and direction, even when the plot slows down in certain places.

The Verdict: 7.5/10

The Meddler is a quietly impactful film about motherhood that provides a platform for Sarandon and Byrne to both deliver wonderful performances. Simmons is excellent also, and if you stick with the film through the slow first half, you'll be richly rewarded with all sorts of warm feels.

The Meddler is in cinemas across Australia now 

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