It's Complicated, or is it?
by Meredith O’Brien
The weekend after Christmas, my best friend from college – who’s been married nearly as long as I have and who also has three kids around the same ages as my trio – went to see It’s Complicated, the comedy starring the Golden Globe-nominated Meryl Streep, and which snagged two other nominations for best comedy and best screenplay.
Seeing that my friend and I are in our late thirties and early forties, respectively, and are smack dab in the middle of the messy, wonderfully insane work of raising kids, I thought it would be interesting for us to see a depiction of Streep’s Jane Adler, as a late fiftysomething mother of grown children whose career as the owner of a bakery/restaurant is blossoming after having been divorced for 10 years following the break-up of her 19-year marriage, obliterated in the wake of her husband’s affair with a much-younger woman.
And, as you may have already gathered from the ubiquitous movie trailers, Streep’s ex-husband Jake Adler (played by Alec Baldwin) has decided that his marriage to said younger woman Agness (the same woman who broke up his first marriage) -- who’s insisting that Jake accompany her to the infertility clinic to have another baby, in addition to her 5-year-old by another man -- isn’t working out as Jake planned. Jane and Jake commence an affair, which is delicious revenge for Jane who’s now seen as the smoldering, confident sexy one while her ex’s wife (played by Lake Bell) is now the one who’s seen as the nagging spouse who’s always calling him on the phone and burdening the put-upon husband with unglamorous domestic duties.
On the one hand, I delighted in seeing the beautiful sixtysomething Streep starring as the desirable, smart, fun-loving Jane who’s fought over by both Jake and her architect who wants to date her (played by Steve Martin). In the end, Jane winds up being the empowered one. Fantastic.
But as my gal pal and I left the theater, we had different responses to the film, aside from our wild admiration for Streep and Baldwin. My friend found it interesting – dare I say, inspiring -- to see how, now that Jane’s three children are all out of the house, she’s flourishing. She’s having her house expanded to add her dream kitchen and a new bedroom which will provide her with a view of the ocean, courtesy of the success of her business. The bakery/café she owns and runs is gorgeous and packed with customers, apparently doing as well as Jane in her post-divorce existence. Now that Jane and Jake’s kids are grown, she got her life back. All of these are good things, things to look forward to, the notion that there’s a very full life to be had after the kids leave the nest.