Some of what I read about the new movie *“[It’s Complicated]” * and its Hollywood woman-of-the-hour, writer-director-producer Nancy Meyers, made me embarrassed to want to see it. I was reminded of the quiet scorn I once received from a college president about to leave on sabbatical when I asked if she had a stack of “Beach Reads” to take along. Serious academics, it was clear from her response, do not read fiction (much less trashy novels); they read *literature* . So should someone like me – at the least a Thinking Woman -- eschew popular romantic comedy and only attend *film* ? You would think so, if you read Daphne Merkin’s piece on Meyers in the December 20 issue of *[The New York Times] Magazine.*
However. Sometimes, as they say, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. And Meyers and the show’s star, Meryl Streep, both 60 and magnificently successful, have capitalized on that. Merkin asks, somewhat patronizingly, “Is this what women want?,” marveling – and sometimes aghast at – Meyers’ success in capturing our hearts and minds on the screen. Of course it’s not *all* we want. But in a movie, in entertainment (remember that word?), with our $10 ticket to the dark anonymity of a movie theater, away from phone calls, emails, under-employed children, sick parents, disaster headlines by the dozens, terrorism, war, and more, how can it be any wonder that we *love* the comfort zone Meyers creates, the fantasies she realizes, and the romance she injects into our often otherwise decidedly *un*romantic lives. She lets us see enough of ourselves in Streep to relate (call that fantasy if you want; it’s OK; it works) and to care (OK – “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry!”) how she works things out. Show me a warm-blooded 60 year-old woman who doesn’t want – even if only for 60 seconds maybe one day a week – to be found attractive, to be flirted with, to be seduced, to still feel just a little bit sexy. Just a little bit. Come on! And then – and I don’t want to give too much away here – show me a 60 year-old woman who doesn’t “get” the ending and feel just a little bit empowered by it. Really, who among you wants to take either Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin home with you – Baldwin and his nicely realistic extra 30 pounds and self-obsession and Martin with all his vulnerability and victimization? By the end, it’s clear Streep doesn’t need either one; she just wanted the possibility. And the romance.
My favorite part of the movie is, in fact, even shallower than anything Meyers’ critics suggest. I love the way both Streep and Baldwin look in the hotel bathrobes! They look as terrible as I have always thought I do – which just goes to show those things, comfy as they may be, and luxurious touch that they can be in a nice hotel room, don’t look good on anyone! Check that little flaw right off the list of things to worry about.
My poor husband. I returned home from the movie to the routine business of putting dinner on the table – and the more routine and more businesslike he made it seem, coupled with the pronouncement that he thinks it’s “weird” to go to a movie alone in the afternoon (which he makes every I time I choose to do so) – made me snap. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked. “The fact that I have to go to a movie for any romance,” I answered. We retired in silence.
So – what do you do, sister thirdthird-ers, for romance these days?
Do tell. Indeed, Tell All! (Please use the Comments section below)
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