It's Complicated

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Romantic-comic triangle composed of a fifty-something divorcee, her remarried but re-interested ex-husband, and her too-good-to-be-true divorced architect: “Your age is one of my favorite things about you.” The grown children have no problems of their own, and the level of affluence — not to forget level of gourmet cuisine — removes all other problems, so that a hypothetical air prevails. In truth, it’s complicated enough already. (The chorus of confidantes drops out of sight when we need them most.) Meryl Streep brings to her role her usual fine detail and wide dynamics, and Alec Baldwin brings an amusing girth. With Steve Martin, John Krasinski, and Lake Bell; written and directed by Nancy Meyers. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R | 1 hour, 54 minutes
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Three elements that make movie watching particularly enjoyable for me are cooking, juicy romances and Meryl Streep. I saw two good movies this week that incorporated all three elements. The first film, “Julie and Julia,” which stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, is essentially two completely different stories within one movie. The Julia Child storyline, which also stars Stanley Tucci, was practically perfect. The Julie Powell storyline which portrayed writer Julie Powell’s creation of a blog describing her attempt to cook her way through Julia Child’s recipes was cute, but would have been better off as a completely separate movie. Meryl Streep became Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” and really satisfied the cravings for my three favorite elements.

In the second movie, “It’s Complicated,” it was interesting to see how the same three elements could play out so differently, yet so wonderfully. Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin star in this charming comedy about a long divorced couple, who by the circumstances of their son’s graduation, are thrust into uncomfortably close quarters. Un-extinguished flames of passion flare up and much complicated hilarity ensues.

Both Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin are mature adults without perfect bodies. Perfection in this day and age means emaciation and lack of wrinkles for women, and ripped hairless bodies for men. Streep and Baldwin, although certainly more attractive than your average folk, look like real people. In several scenes, Baldwin bares his hairy, chubby older body, but still manages to look exceedingly handsome. With his deep blue eyes, it’s no wonder that Streep’s character becomes flushed at the site of him- pot belly, straggly grey chest hairs and all.

They embark on a romantic affair, if that is what one would call it. The movie’s title, “It’s Complicated,” pretty much sums up the situation for the newly re-united couple. Baldwin’s character is currently married to a much younger, but dreadful woman with a bratty kid. His current wife served as the other woman to Streep’s character ten years earlier, causing the initial divorce. Now Streep is the other other woman.

Thrown into the mix is sweet Steve Martin who is still mourning the loss of his own marriage, while getting to know and fall in love with Streep’s character, a pastry chef, while remodeling her kitchen. Cooking, romance, Streep. There is much skulking around, omissions of truth, passionate encounters and emotional airings of past regrets mixed with painful revelations of needs and desires by all parties. Complicated, funny stuff.

Writer/Director Nancy Meyers, who made “It’s Complicated,” also wrote one of my favorite movies of all time, “Something’s Gotta Give,” starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson from 2003. That movie is another fine example of a complicated romance between older adults.

Jan. 31, 2010

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