It's Complicated

Meryl Streep stars in an oddly addictive drama of adultery among the moneyed classes. By Peter Bradshaw



Writer-director Nancy Meyers has now surely established herself as the world's foremost purveyor of crack-cocaine-strength gastro-lifestyle fantasy porn to the menopausal classes. It really is horribly effective. All around me in the cinema, women and men of a certain age – my age, in fact – were jabbing Ms Meyers's feelgood-needle into their veins, and slumping into their plush seats with the classic smackhead sigh of submission while their jaws slackened and their eyeballs rolled back into their heads. And I must now shamefacedly admit her new escapist romcom is expertly put together, like a screenplay masterclass from Satan, and the lead performance from Alec Baldwin is   very good.

As ever, we are very firmly in a world of moneyed folk who don't think of themselves as such. F Scott Fitzgerald said that the rich are different from you and me. Meyers says the rich are ­ exactly the same as you and me – because you're rich, right? Hey, me too! Anyway, even if you're not, these fictional rich people have adorable problems that you can sort of identify with, and you sort of feel rich by osmosis-empathy.

Streep plays Jane, whom I can only describe as a divorced chocolatier with grownup children and a thriving upscale deli-cum-eaterie. She's in the rich glow of her autumn years. Her ex-husband Jake, played by Baldwin, is a hotshot lawyer with sharp suits and a prosperous paunch who, to Jane's secret misery and humiliation, has remarried a sexy younger babe. This byotch actually left him briefly at some stage, had an obnoxious brat by some other guy, thus forfeiting our sympathy-rights, and is clingingly now back with Jake, killing their lust by demanding incessant trips to the fertility clinic. Just as Jane is on the verge of a relationship with a sweet architect called Adam, played by Steve Martin, Jake gets that old glint in his eye and now Jane's having a wild affair with her ex-husband! He looks longingly at her like Tony Soprano with a massive crush on Martha Stewart.

Now, all these people work for a living. In theory. They have the appurtenances and status-trappings of work. At one point, we see Meryl helping out at her restaurant behind the counter – and, phew! Isn't that hectic? Hard work, or what? We even see her implausibly picking vegetables in her colossal kitchen garden, wearing an outrageous "gardening hat". But basically these are the leisured classes we're talking about. Their skittish adventures are played   out to the background music of the hotel bar pianist. Complicated? Well, money simplifies.

For me, Meyers's romcoms have been unwatchable because of the utter fakeness of their leading players: but I must confess, Baldwin and Streep do have that most over-analysed thing, "chemistry", and their marriage and sudden Indian summer of forbidden sex is weirdly believable – as unbelievable as that sounds. Not that there aren't annoying things in it. Meryl's new life-accepting-life-affirming laugh – her "Mamma Mia" laugh – is grating. But this is fun.

appurtenances: akcesoria

chocolatier: producent czekolady

clingingly: kurczowo, nie odstępując od

forfeit: tracić

glint: błysk

jab: wbijać, robić zastrzyk

obnoxious: nieprzyjemny, przykry

paunch: brzuszysko

purveyor: dostarczyciel, dostawca

skittish: żywy; kokieteryjny

slackened: rozluźniony

slump: osuwać się, gwałtownie opadać

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