#REVIEW: “THE MEDDLER”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
When Lorene Scafaria’s The Meddler was set to premiere at TIFF I joked to anyone who would listen that it was a Biopic about my mother. Months later when I finally saw the Movie in preparation for this review, I told my mother I was seeing a Movie about her. Ten minutes after the lights went down I was shaking my head and laughing because I realized that The Meddler is less about my own sanity challenged mother and more about everybody’s crazy mother.
Recently widowed Marnie (played to cringing perfection by Susan Sarandon) has moved her entire life from New York City to Los Angeles to be closer to only child. The proximity means that she can drop by unannounced with salt bagels, tag along to events, befriend her daughter’s friends, and become the best friend her daughter never knew she wanted. The only thing Lori (Rose Byrne) wants less than a best friend is a mother who is forever inserting herself into Lori’s life under the guise of being helpful. When she breaks down and tells her mother to get a hobby, Marnie’s response is the one all children are terrified they will someday hear from a parent: “Maybe you could be my hobby.”
At loose ends after Lori heads to New York to shoot pilot she wrote for the upcoming television season, Marnie dips her oar into several people’s lives including a complete stranger at the local hospital, a lesbian couple who never had the wedding of their dreams, and even a helpful Apple Store genius Marnie is certain is meant for better things. With all this going on Marnie manages to find time to juggle two suitors (Michael McKean and J.K. Simmons). In fact, the only person who doesn’t seem appreciative of Marnie’s efforts is her own daughter.
Scafaria’s script is littered with lovely moments aimed directly at anyone who has ever taken their own mother for granted. In a particularly poignant moment, Lori expresses her own sense of loss about the death of her father lamenting, “It’s hard to look at you sometimes […] because half the room is missing.”
A quick glance at IMDB fails to list the two unsung heroes of The Meddler: Apple products and the city of Los Angeles. If the the incessant product placement of the former seems painfully forced the the joyful homage to the latter is the welcome tonic. Indeed, the movie is almost as much a love letter to L.A. as it is to Scafaria’s own mother.
So this Mother’s Day weekend, allow a well intentioned movie critic to meddle in your plans. Skip the overpriced brunch and bouquet of already wilting flowers you had planned and introduce your mother to The Meddler.
Mongrel Media opens The Meddler on Friday, May 6, 2016.