Nothing, so I’ve read, mollifies divorce like the prospect of sex-with-the-ex and the hope trumping experience prospect of reconciliation.
But then, of course, it’s complicated.
Directed and written by Nancy Meyers, “It’s Complicated” is a charming tale of a ten-year divorced couple, Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin), who try without much success but with great humor to re-kindle the flame that sustained a nineteen year marriage that produced three tooth-grindingly-attractive children, Luke (Hunter Parrish), Gabby (Zoe Kazan), and Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald) and, by extension, one very cool future son-in-law, Harley (John Krasinski).
The tone is set when Jane runs into Jake at a party: he’s Snuggie-charming, she’s a bit of a retroactive virginal wreck but glad to see him, looking nonetheless fabulous in a MILF sort of way. Their banter is comfortable and almost civilized, until his much, much younger wife, Agness (Lake Bell), appears (mid-twenties gorgeous but clearly high maintenance), after which time Jane skulks off, chagrined but looking no less MILF-ish.
They hook up at their son’s graduation in New York. This sets in motion a series of endearing, well-done episodes of Jake going all cavalier-like (he has to: his affair tanked the marriage), Jane heroically parrying his advances before she decides what the hell; his already-bad current marriage hitting the rocks, her dating life accelerating when she meets Adam (Steve Martin), the architect who’s redesigning her kitchen, the utter confusion of their three kids who haven’t gotten over the divorce, even more confusion when Jane and Jake react like the grown-ups they are when they smoke pot. What keeps the film from being overly happy or sad, preachy or bitter, is the ending which is really the only possible way it could end; and it’s not what you expect.
As the exes, Streep and Baldwin are stellar as a couple of mature, successful, independent people whose lives have di- and then converged after their divorce. They are soft and comfortable together. Their rough edges are rounded. He, a bulldog attorney who’s now a Chihuahua partner, is contrite. She, a pastry chef, is forgiving. They know each other so dang well. Their emotions run the gamut from resigned separation to giddy makeout artists, from love-weary grownups to immature (though extremely well-off) lovers on the sly. They look like they were made for each other; and their children, in an inspired bit of casting, surely carry strands of Streep-Baldwin DNA. All this to the dismay of their children, whose expectations nicely raise our expectations that it might work out, that it might not, and then somewhere in between.
What is odd, though, extremely odd, is Steve Martin. His character is well drawn (it should be, he’s an architect) but there’s something that looks faux and cartoonishly out of place. Is it the eyes? (It is) If so, it would be ironic: Jane is going in to have some work done on her eyes. Martin the actor looks like he’s already had it done. Multiple times.