The Meddler (2015)

meddler_2015_poster
  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Lorene Scafaria
  • Cast: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons

Storyline:

An aging widow from New York City follows her daughter to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a new life after her husband passes away.

One review

  • “Maybe you could be my hobby,” Marnie Minervini (Susan Sarandon) tells her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) in the early stages of Lorene Scafaria’s sophomore feature, The Meddler. Of course, her daughter has been a lifelong hobby but perhaps Marnie’s constant attention hadn’t seemed so smothering when it wasn’t just the two of them.

    Drawing upon her own personal experience with her irrepressible mother Gail, Scafaria paints an affectionate portrait of a particularly well-meaning soul. When we first meet the Brooklyn-accented, recently widowed Marnie, she’s adjusting to life in Los Angeles, where she’s moved to be closer to Lori, a television writer who seems to be in a constant state of shambles. Meddling mothers may be commonly portrayed as irritants or as punchlines but, despite Lori’s exasperations, Marnie’s constant presence – whether in the form of lengthy voicemails detailing the various goings-on in her life or showing up in person and bearing bagels – is a source of great comfort.

    Yet that very same comfort can chafe and when Lori has to leave for a shoot in New York, she takes it as an opportunity to set some boundaries with Marnie. Left all by her lonesome and blessed with a generous inheritance from her late husband, Marnie finds ways to feel useful and stave off the loneliness. She volunteers at a hospital where she becomes a constant companion to an old woman. She offers her babysitting services to one of Lori’s friends, Jillian (Cecily Strong), and, upon hearing that Jillian never had the wedding of her dreams with her lesbian partner, insists on giving her the $13,000 needed to bring her dream wedding to life. The Apple store employee (Jerrod Carmichael) she encouraged to pursue a law degree is another beneficiary of her attention – not only does she drive him to and from his classes, but even helps him study for his exams.

    Marnie also slowly edges into a romance with Zipper (J.K. Simmons), a Harley-driving ex-cop she meets on a film set onto which she inadvertently wandered. Their first “date” includes Zipper introducing her to his beloved chickens whom he serenades with Dolly Parton tunes. Sarandon and Simmons are so irresistible together that one wishes their romance was the primary focus of the film, but The Meddler is so warmhearted with all of its characters that it’s difficult to fault Scafaria from populating the tale with them. That said, more focus would have been welcome on Marnie and Lori since Sarandon and Byrne make for a convincing mother-daughter pairing and the movie lifts whenever they’re together.

    Devoid of huge plot developments and sometimes verging into sitcom territory, The Meddler gleans its many charms from its relatable and heartfelt characters and most of all from the zesty and effervescent Sarandon.

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