I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.
This is a brilliant and bitter-sweet look at love and marriage, divorce and children, longing for what was and the reality of time’s flow taking us to new places, by choice and by circumstance, both sad and hopeful.
Hats off to Nancy Meyers for putting this remarkable ensemble of actors and themes together – it’s a testimony to her considerable skill as writer and director.
If you like Meryl Streep, you’ll love her here; she’s at the top of her acting game and brings pathos and yearning and sorrow and anger to life.
Her ex, played by Alec Baldwin, brings to the screen all the characteristics that make men loveable and deeply irritating.
A special word about John Krasinski who’s the oldest daughter’s fiancé (Harley) – his sense of comedic/dramatic timing is impeccable; he is the role, and the role is him. We will see a lot of him in the future.
The three children are done well: Hunter Parrish (Luke, who’s just graduated from college), Caitlin Fitzgerald (Lauren, the oldest engaged to Harley ) and Zoe Kazan (Gabby, just off to College), capture the rueful longings for a whole family, yet the bitter realization that time moves us along to other places, and life does go on.
The lonely guy roll is played well by Steve Martin, though I felt it took awhile for him to find his pace … hard to tell what scenes were shot when, but in the end, I think he captures the essence of his persona.
The family dynamics are powerfully presented – a family who is finally getting used to the divorce, and then having it all disrupted when mom and dad get hooked up again, at least, for a fling! “The affair” brings to the screen some of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen – Alec Baldwin is brings his aging self to life for us, as does Streep; the body isn’t what it used to be, but the soul remains and so do the memories.
But there’s no going back home.
And dad, who left mom for a younger woman, and is now going to fertility clinics and looking at preschools even when his last daughter is off to college.
As you can see, the themes are rich and poignant, but the comedy, so well done, keeps the film well-paced and easy to watch, even as one’s heart is wrenched a time or two.
I suppose one could wait for Netflix on this one, but why wait. It’s a terrific evening for adults who have lived long enough to know that “it’s complicated.”
Thumbs up on this one!