Everyone's worst nightmare is a meddling mother, especially one who's got nothing else better to do. Writer/director Lorene Scafaria's THE MEDDLER boasts just such a character -- but carefully extricates her from her stereotypes to reveal her lovable qualities.
Our first glimpse of Marnie is in bed -- surrounded by bright yellow bedding, she lies in bed, staring solemnly at the ceiling fan. This is the quietest you will see Marnie (Susan Sarandon), for almost immediately, her cheery New Jersey accent floods the speakers, introducing a flashy, sunny Los Angeles -- Marnie is exploring her new home, to which she has just moved in order to be closer to her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne). It seems that Marnie's life revolves around talking -- voicemail after voicemail (which she graciously bestows upon her daughter's cell phone) describes Marnie as ready to embrace this new page in her life -- a page that is made possible by her deceased husband's money.
As we begin to see this vibrant yet overbearing mother in her new habitat, the story quickly becomes clear: Marnie fills her time with busybody tendencies, preferring to meddle with other people's lives than deal with her own ("Basically, I feel great!" she repeats several times throughout the film, often coupled with a bit of advice that was not asked for). From commandeering her daughter's social life to financing and planning a complete stranger's wedding, Marnie has a heart of gold, but she doesn't realize how deep she's getting herself (and others) into messes.
The performances in this film are spectacular -- Sarandon delightfully handles the complexities of a woman juggling loneliness and fear, and Byrne plays the quintessential depiction of mortification, while still allowing for connections throughout the film. Sarandon also brews some great on-screen chemistry with J.K. Simmons as the "biker teddy" love interest, Zipper. The characters are tangible and relatable, and while there are a few too many plot points crammed into the story, the core is worthwhile.
It's not the perfect flick, but it's fun and engaging -- THE MEDDLER starts May 20th at Midtown Cinema! Be sure to check it out!