Hot Take: This was the Mother’s Day film that should have made $10 million plus at the box office.
Each month, Movie Hot Take ranks the most anticipated movies of the month. In April, The Meddler ranked 21st of 25 releases. When The Meddler was the only first run film left in theaters to see, the only thing I was looking forward to was overpriced popcorn. Despite the reservations and the total lack of excitement in anticipation of seeing this film, The Meddler ended up being a surprisingly worthwhile and enjoyable movie with well-written, very real characters and a cast — headlined by Susan Sarandon as Marnie — that does an excellent job bringing them to life.
To find out the film was inspired by writer/director Lorene Scafaria’s own widowed mother was not very surprising as The Meddler felt deeply personal. While the storyline itself occasionally felt sitcomish, the way both Marnie and her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), based on the writer/director herself, were dealing with the loss of the patriarch of the family was emotional, real and moving.
Credit goes to Sarandon for turning in a wonderful performance. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, I was completely annoyed by her character much like I was during the trailer which led me to pass judgment on the movie. As the film progressed, I started to realize the real beauty of the film and the character. Admittedly, there was a point when I wished people like this didn’t exist. A meddlesome, advice spewing buttinski who doesn’t know boundaries or when to put their opinion on ice was initially grating.
As the movie progressed, I started thinking the complete opposite. The misguided meddlesome nature of Marnie came from some deep emotional scars and the processing of those emotions through this behavior felt incredibly real. At some point, I remember thinking how much I hoped Marnie had a real-life counterpart and this character was as real as it felt to me watching the film. The authenticity of the emotions I witnessed on screen being validated would only make The Meddler that much more satisfying.
The Meddler is truly a satisfying piece of cinema. The flaws in it’s storytelling are easy to overlook thanks to the emotional depth and authentic feel of it’s characters. Honestly, if a Hollywood writer didn’t take some liberties with their own life when bringing it to life on screen, there would be something wrong. At least in this case, I’m confident the spirit of the characters and the emotion was as real as it could possibly be and that is all that matters sometimes. To take a page out of Marnie’s book, go see The Meddler. Take your mom as an apology for making her suffer through Mother’s Day earlier this month. No need to thank me later, it’s my pleasure.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Emotionally and Psychologically Strong
While the plot sometimes came across as convenient, the emotion and psychology of the characters felt as real as anything a fictionalized tale can deliver.
Both dramatically and comically, Sarandon offered a lot as Marnie. It wasn’t easy to warm up to the character but once you got to know her motivations and heart through Sarandon’s portrayal, it was impossible not to at least find a way through a rather tough period in anyone’s life.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Loose Ends
A few anecdotal elements of the story went unexplained. There were a few plot drivers that went unresolved and in the end, it was unclear whether this was a testament to the character’s resolve, an oversight or an editing decision.
- The Anecdotal Storytelling Itself
Come to think of it, the anecdotal nature of some of the story was, in general, unsettling. Establishing a timeline of events is a rather important element when trying to process a film and thinking back on the film, I don’t feel I could actually tell you if this film took place over a week, a month or even a year. If I had to guess, it felt like it might have been a month but it could have been two.