Starring: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Running Time: 100 mins
The Meddler is an American film about a mother who moves to Los Angeles, where her daughter lives, and begins to meddle in her affairs to breaking point.
I really expected this movie to be an irritating, shrill and perhaps even bad-natured comedy, but I can say that The Meddler is almost exactly the opposite in every way, proving a genuinely heartwarming and often thoroughly funny watch.
Let me explain why I went into this movie with such low expectations. There’s a really annoying trope in Hollywood where characters with overbearing behaviour get a free pass just because they mean well, despite the destruction they might do to the lives of others.
The Meddler has all the ingredients of a film ready to follow that formula to the line, following an ageing mother who, in the aftermath of her husband’s death, just wants to help her daughter in any way she can, no matter what damage she might do by being there all the time.
But that’s not what this movie is about. Certainly, that behaviour is there, but The Meddler spends a lot more time reflecting on the characters’ motivations, something made all the more effective by its heavy focus on the mother figure of the story.
Played by the always-wonderful Susan Sarandon, the mother is first off never as shrill or irritatingly overbearing as you may expect. This isn’t Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and Sarandon plays a real character with her own story.
While you sympathise with the frustration felt by her daughter, played by Rose Byrne, the film lets you focus more on exactly why Sarandon’s character is the way she is, offering a rare opportunity to really understand a variety of different perspectives in one story.
It’s a genuinely unusual thing to see a Hollywood comedy like this putting a little more effort into a story than just going for cheap laughs, and the development of all of the characters, as they too begin to understand the motives behind one another’s actions, makes for a thoroughly engaging and heartfelt watch.
In terms of the comedy side of affairs, I wouldn’t call The Meddler the funniest film ever made, and given that there is so much impressive focus on the characters, the fluffy humour does suffer a little.
That said, the charisma of Sarandon’s central performance, along with the kind-hearted nature of the story, means that The Meddler is a film that you can’t help but smile at.
Overall, then, this film really surprised me. A genuinely heartfelt and reflective comedy-drama, The Meddler counts on delightful performances, good humour and real dramatic depth to deliver a genuinely pleasant and heartwarming watch. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6 overall.