To self-titled nerds like me, there has never been a more exciting time at the movies. By the end of this year, we will have seen multiple Marvel and DC films, the return of the wizarding world of Harry Potter, a genuine attempt by studios to adapt two different but beloved video game franchises, and a new Star Wars film. Being a nerd has never been easier or enjoyable.
However, even nerds need a break from blockbuster juggernauts.
Smaller in scale with calmer, more introspective storytelling, The Meddler provides a cleanse of sorts. Instead of centering around larger-than-life characters, it is effortlessly relatable by focusing on a mother doing what she does best: mothering. There is no spectacle. Just moments of humor, pain and acceptance. As amazing as Captain America: Civil War was, we probably should have spent Mother’s Day weekend watching this film with our moms.
Marnie (Susan Sarandon) moves to Los Angeles after the death of her husband to be closer to her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne). It does not take long for Lori to demand space, so Marnie quickly starts to divert her attention towards others who may need her endless support more.
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, The Meddler’s semi-autobiographical nature is obvious from the moment the film begins. The level of authenticity in Marnie and Lori’s relationship is surprising and their interactions are fundamentally reminiscent of each filmgoers’ relationship with their own mothers. Marnie’s antics may seem exaggerated for the sake of comedy but she never becomes a caricature. Rather, the film goes out of its way to explore various dimensions of her character. Scafaria’s writing mixed with Sarandon’s strong performance make the film worth the price of a ticket.
Comedies today depend on vulgarity to make audiences laugh. Personally, I find those comedies tasteless and stupid. Thankfully, The Meddler relies on witty dialogue and familial dynamics to get audiences to laugh throughout the screening. Marnie’s charm and Lori’s immunity to it are particular highlights even though Lori’s mistreatment of her mother is off-putting.
Still, the film is noticeably quiet. Although Scafaria managed to get the rights to the Beyoncé song “I Was Here” for free, the majority of The Meddler lacks music. Is the film trying to seem more realistic without a soundtrack? Probably. But with no music to fill up the occasional silence between dialogue, the film runs the risk of boring audiences. The ending does drag on longer than necessary and the story’s slow pacing does not help these issues.
The Meddler reminds audiences that while our mothers may at times be the most irritating people we know; they are also the ones who love us the most. We shouldn’t take them for granted and should call them once in a while. Does my mom watch too many crime shows and today sent me a video explaining the dangers of walking to your car unaware of your surroundings? Yes. Did I roll my eyes? Yup. Did I still hug her when I saw her later? Of course.
The Meddler was released April 22, 2016.