It’s been awhile since a film truly showcased the sizeable talents of actress Susan Sarandon but as a testament to her acting capabilities, The Meddler should find its spot among the cream of the crop on the actress’ resume. Sarandon’s commanding performance is one of the chief reasons to see the film—albeit, not the only one. It’s also one of the main reasons why the film works so well. I can think of any number of performers of Sarandon’s ilk with whom the film would not have worked as well. It may not be a film that will be remembered come Oscar time but it’s a perfect alternative to the glut of sequels and super hero extravaganzas that come down the pike this time of year at a furious pace.
The film is ostensibly a comedy, I suppose, but underneath its surface beats the heart of a film with much higher aspirations than that. This is a film that, wrapped inside the guise of situational comedy, is also a nice exploration of grief and how people react differently when being forced to say goodbye. I liked the fact that the film was able to wrap its more serious intentions inside the laughs even if, perhaps, the film doesn’t goes as deeply as I would have liked at times.
Sarandon’s character is Marnie Minervini, a recently widowed sixtysomething, Jersey born and bred, who was left a generous sum of money by her deceased husband.
Susan Sarandon & Rose Byrne in The Meddler
Marnie has recently moved to LA to be near her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne, who’s much more preferable here than in Neighbors 2). Lori is an aspiring screenwriter who’s on the verge of getting a pilot picked up as a possible TV series but can’t seem to get her love life together. To put it another way, Lori’s personal life is currently scoring about a two while her professional life is scoring about a nine.
The problem is that Marnie can’t seem to let her daughter live her own life. Her meddling isn’t just limited to her daughter either. She seems compelled to insert herself into everyone’s life that she comes into contact with, using her money to make life easier for those unlucky souls. Everyone but Marnie can clearly see that this is most likely her way of dealing with her unresolved feelings of guilt at inheriting such a large sum of money by taking everyone under her wing as a charity case of some sort.
Marnie eventually finds a love interest in a retired police officer (the wonderful J.K. Simmons). It’s the scenes between these two that worked best for me. By the time the film reached its conclusion I wanted to see those two together. Whether that happens or not I’ll leave for you, dear viewer, to discover. Though not perfect, The Meddler is definitely worth a look.
The Lobster will begin playing at Winston-Salem’s Aperture Cinema on June 3.
The Meddler is now playing at The Regal Manor Twin in Charlotte.
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