With rom-coms revitalised in 2009 by (500) Days Of Summer, what is normally a tired genre faces tough competition to keep up appearances. The chick-flick variety, however, have struggled for a long while, but with Oscar-bait Meryl Streep involved, perhaps It’s Complicated would be the film to break the rule.
About Jane (Streep), a successful bakery owner, divorcee and mother of three grown children, it’s taken 10 years for her to at least reach a good relationship with her ex-husband. Jane and Jake (Baldwin), however, soon enough spoil it all. Despite his new, much younger wife, at the graduation of the their son, the divorced couple spend an intimate night together, and what started off as a one-time thing soon turns into a full blown affair. If things weren’t complicated enough, Jane’s emotions are thrown further up in the air when Adam (Martin) appears on the scene, leaving her with the impossible decision of whether to turn over a new leaf or go back to her previous love.
With a great cast along for the ride, you might have been expecting something beyond the usual rom-com fodder, but writer/director Nancy Meyers delivers nothing beyond the norm, in fact, it’s traditional messages are undone by a convoluted script, and misconstrued characters.
Alec Baldwin, and notably John Krasinski as the eldest daughter’s boyfriend, are great and give the film it’s moments of comedy but it is Baldwin’s Jake that is at the route of It’s Complicated’s problems. Though the tone of the film is remarkably biased towards the female perspective, with his charisma Jane’s newfound attraction, Jack is less than half-heartedly played as the villain, instead, Agness (Bell) is deemed at fault for the break-up of Jane’s marriage. But with Jack and Agness now married, looking after a young kid themselves, Jane is implored to continue her affair with Jack, even though it will mean the break-up of another marriage, and she doesn’t feel an ounce of guilt; you’d struggle to create a more blind-sighted and hypocritical situation.
For a pivotal role, however, Agness is entirely underwritten, and doesn’t get the chance to put her side across. Perhaps Meyers drew from personal experiences when penning It’s Complicated, but she has let her personal feelings come in the way of creating a well-rounded, mature script.
While the title would have you believe It’s Complicated is delving into deeply entangled relationships, the film is nothing new. Meyer’s latest doesn’t have the honesty, intelligence or vulnerability of the characters in her earlier films. The pacing though is good, and after a steady introduction, builds rapidly as the events unfold with Alec Baldwin standing out if little else does.
The Oscar talk surrounding It’s Complicated is some way off, it’s not a bad film, but it’s certainly nothing to get overly excited about.