Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin form a unique romantic triangle as the acting leads in Nancy Meyers’ quality comedy It’s Complicated. Strong acting, set design, and cinematography provide special appeal to mature audiences as Meyers writes and directs yet another hit movie. This divorce comedy covers both realistic drama and comedic situations involving family, desires, and the lifelong search for happiness.
Memories of a life together and alcohol help initiate a new affair and some interesting events, which prompts the film’s title. Jane, played by Meryl Streep, initiates a closer relationship with her ex-husband Jake, played by Alec Baldwin. Alec Baldwin amazes as Jake, a lawyer who suddenly wonders “what if” 12 years after his divorce from Jane, especially after his current relationship with Agness (Lake Bell) and her son (Emjay Anthony) gets… well, complicated.
Jane feels bad for her actions, but this couple’s past and overall gender roles play a part in progressing the changing relationship here. Jake is certainly not irresistible. He just knows which buttons to push while shifting his priorities towards Jane’s personal needs, which become the focus as her last child, Gabby, leaves the home nest.
Jane, a restaurant owner, decides to redesign her house to deflect some loneliness issues. Steve Martin plays Adam, a talented architect who also begins to fill Jane’s personal needs by interpreting her various emails into a top-notch blueprint. “I’m always surprised when I can count on someone,” Jane tells Adam. Jane loves the plans and eventually opens her heart to Adam, who is also divorced. Now the stage is set for some romantic antics and genuine moments reminiscent of classic films like His Girl Friday.
These three accomplished leads also have an excellent supporting cast featuring John Krasinski who plays Harley, fiancé of Jane and Jake’s daughter Lauren, played by Caitlin Fitzgerald. Hunter Parrish finishes the family sibling trio as Luke, who invites Jake and Jane to his college graduation, the launching pad to Jane’s “reboot” relationship with Jake.
As the kids take off, Jane is left on her own then one thing leads to another after she encounters Jake alone in the hotel lounge. Jake reveals his passionate affection for Jane in this new affair while a more guarded Jane gradually opens herself up to Jake, but at the expense of lying to her children.
Jake philosophizes and justifies this new relationship with Jane while she resists initially, but relents to her own needs and desires, realized in a poignant sequence with her therapist. Two mildly entertaining sequences with Jane’s girlfriends, played by Rita Wilson, Mary Kay Place, and Alexandra Wentworth, develop Jane’s motives well in a before and after discussion comparison.
Jane’s girlfriends dub Jake an “ex with benefits” and justify Jane’s behavior saying she is “allowed this one.” Jake’s relationship with Agness eventually opens up more opportunity for Adam to get back in the picture. Meyers leads to multiple key climax sequences, especially a party dance sequences where two characters’ heartaches are on full display.
The screenplay provides some justification for divorce, but mainly presents multiple relationship scenarios at a steady pace that does not overwhelm the audience. The dialogue is sharp and witty except for a hollow dialogue justification where Jane evokes the “for better or for worse” part of her marriage vows when discussing her current situation with her children. Too bad she forgot the “until death do us part” section of her vows.
This DVD has basic special features include the 20-minute “The Making Of: It’s Complicated” featurette and feature commentary with director of photography John Toll (a two-time Oscar winner), editor Joe Hutshing, Meyers, who also produced with commentator Suzanne Farwell — a wise mix of commentators because this film looks amazing.
Toll’s amazing work combined with the art and set decoration allows the viewers into a familiar world and situations featuring extraordinary actors. This commentary tracks engages audiences on a high level, just like the film. Meyers conveys her intentions well and defers to the other commentators throughout the discussion.
The biggest disadvantage in the commentary becomes the deleted scene references. Viewers do not have any deleted scenes on this DVD or the Blu-ray version to refer to, so the references are basically useless until they’re included in a future version.
This film is worthy of a strong recommendation. The things we do for love are numerous and filmmakers wisely limit them here by cutting scenes.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler