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Byron Shire
May 20, 2022

Cinema Review – The Meddler

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It’s curious that, generally speaking, actors and actresses are awarded Oscars for excelling in dramatic roles and not comedies and the like. Yul Brynner got one for his part in a musical and Audrey Hepburn won hers for a rom/com, but Hollywood tends to take itself far too seriously to dole out baubles to anything that might not be seen as of the utmost importance to the world. Which is a pity, because Susan Sarandon is superb in this, a movie that is far more substantial than just the sum of its scattered parts.

Marnie is widowed, with a daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) making her own way as a writer in film and TV. She has moved from New Jersey to the sunshine of LA, but finds that there is a hole in her life that she cannot fill. To Lori she is a pest, calling constantly and overstepping the line in their mother/daughter relationship. As a woman of a certain age, Marnie is lonely, but writer/director Lorene Scafaria does not make her out to be concerned only with finding another man. Instead, Marnie seeks activities and involvements that will satisfy her energy, enthusiasm and willingness to give. It is around this matter that the screenplay tends to come unstuck, as Marnie lurches from one not-entirely-believable scenario to the next.

She sets a black guy whom she meets at an Apple shop on a pathway to becoming a lawyer, she bankrolls a lesbian wedding and, after a clunky setup, finds herself in a car with a bloke who might be a serial killer. In short, there is a lot of standard schlock thrown into the mix, but the movie, which is too long by a good fifteen minutes, rises above it all thanks to the captivating Sarandon who can cry on a plane and eat a fried egg like nobody’s business. Byrne and JK Simmons, as a nice-guy suitor who keeps chooks, both pass muster, as you’d expect, and the end result is a film that is impossible not to be warmed by.

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