It’s More Complicated than Nancy Meyers Would Have Us Believe

December 27, 2009 § 3 Comments

 

Like all Nancy Meyers’ movies, “It’s Complicated” is like eating an entire meal of desserts–a wickedly delicious experience for which you’ll pay later. This morning, coming off my sugar high, two things about the movie struck me. The first is a comment made by Jake, Alec Baldwin’s character, to his ex-wife Jane (Meryl Streep) after they have sex:  

JAKE 

And I know other divorced people 

think about this…they wonder – 

what if…

(fixes his tie) 

I think this is very French of us. 

JANE 

How is this French of us? 

JAKE 

I have a young wife but I’m having 

sex with my old wife. Not old, you 

know. Ex! 

No! If Jake and Jane were French, they’d still be married to each other; he’d be having an affair with a younger woman while she might be having one with a younger man. What the Adlers are having is actually the inverse of a French arrangement, one that exists mainly in Nancy Meyers’ imagination. But hey, it’s all in good fun. 

More disturbing are the class/economic implications of “It’s Complicated.” All Meyers’ films (as well as those she made with her ex-husband, Charles Shyer) feature upper-middle-class characters who live like billionaires. Jane, a restaurateur, makes it clear to her architect, Adam (Steve Martin) that her storybook Spanish Colonial was purchased post-divorce. As there’s no indication she’s also an heiress, we’re supposed to believe that her bustling Santa Barbara breakfast-and-lunch eatery/patisserie paid for an estate so grand that neither neighboring houses nor the road are visible from the grounds. Further straining credulity, Jane, an empty nester, is building a luxurious two-story addition that will give her not only the kitchen of her dreams but an ocean view from the master suite. (Hence the architect and ensuing romantic complications.) 

I love dreams as much as the next moviegoer, honestly I do. And I understand why the restaurateur, architect and lawyer in this movie are rarely shown working. But I really think Meyers should consider matching her characters’ occupations, as little as they practice them, to their standard of living. Thus I’m looking forward to seeing royalty, industrial tycoons and Third World despots cavort in Meyers’ next impeccably set-decorated comedy. Complicated, to be sure, but only fair.

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