Have you ever seen this film? its pure white, American fun. Middle aged and above fun. I love it. I’m none of those things but I absolutely will always have this film in my movie go-to pile. I watch at any given time, it’s so inoffensive and doesn’t require my full concentration. Having said this, I do pay attention; its funny, endearing, well acted, beautifully shot and has a brilliant soundtrack. Also it’s just a good story.
I went through a small period of loving contemporary older actors in Rom-Com movies. Prime (starring Uma Thurman and Bryan Greenberg) perhaps closed that door, but it was As Good As it Gets (Helen Hunt, Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear) that opened the door in the first place. I was in my element, Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers were my mentors, they told me that love began – and excuse me for this – they told me that: love began at any age.
What? shut-up, I wasn’t stupid. In the deep recesses of my complex mind I knew love and indeed falling out/losing and finding it, could happen to anybody at any-time in one’s life but sometimes I think film does so much more to help certain thoughts and feelings resonate personally and this particular film does it every time.
Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) is a 60-something wealthy music mogul who has eyes for ladies under 30. Curator Marin Klein (Peet) is one of those ladies, but after a planned stay in the Hampton’s is awkwardly interrupted by the presence of Marin’s mother, successful playwright Erica Barry (Keating) and her sister Zoe (McDormand), Harry is finally forced to deal with a woman his own age.
During a brilliantly funny scene of ruthless interrogation set under the guise of an evening meal, Zoe flags up a question on the social taboos of having middle-aged women date younger men. Erica a beautiful if not a little out of practice woman of a certain age, embodies all the wonderful and envious characteristics that should make her appealing to men, but it soon becomes clear that some men don’t want super-women they want fun and sex and perhaps that equates to youth only. Needless to say if Erica was to do the same thing as Harry, by dating men considerably younger than she, then people would frown.
Ha! says the film’s director, Nancy Meyers, love and sex and age are not exclusive of one another nor preferential to any gender. Enter in Keanu Reeves. He woos
us Erica with his young-ish sexy doctor self, truly making this film even more worth watching, because with the exception of Speed, I have never seen Keanu more sexy than he is in this film.
Things don’t work out between Marin and Harry but after he falls ill and is advised by sexy doctor Keanu, to rest up in the Hampton’s a little longer, it falls to Erica to stay behind and help nurse him out of her home and her life. This is a Nancy Meyers film, it’s not a Katherine Bigelow thriller. You know what happens. Something has got to give. They both have their flaws and are stuck in their stubborn ways that they believe is right for them – but just as love is ageless, so is ignorance and pride and prejudice; and there dear friends and film lovers is what I just now realised…
All this film is, like most romantic ones, is an updated version of Jane Austen’s romantic novel to rule all.
Jack Nicholson is funny. Simple as. In fact I believe some of his best roles have been comedy ones. In this he’s kind of like a mirror extreme version of Melvin Udall in As Good as it Gets, but he’s just as endearing and surprisingly charming despite his character’s questionable choices.
Diane Keaton. In the movie Harry says Keaton’s character is ‘A woman to love’. She confronts the statement with a mixture of confusion and disapproval but soon enough that line is what she uses to commit the ultimate revenge in having her heart-broken. She uses it as the title of her play, that subsequently becomes a success. This role is Diane Keating. To me, I felt like she was possibly playing herself. I don’t know I’ve just seen her in numerous other movies where she’s never seemed as confident and at ease with a character than with this one. So her performance is heart wrenching, not pathetic or even sad, she’s awesome. A role model and an attractive turtle-neck ambassador to rival the late Steve Jobs.
Keanu and Amanda Peet: this is a film that loves the older generation and refuses to paint them in a grumpy, eccentric sad light. It has none of it. What’s even better is, instead of vilifying the young like so many ageist films do to the old, Somethings Gotta Give is all about love and acceptance. I’m serious, It’s not even cheesy, it’s just mature*. That is why Amanda Peet’s sweet natured, endearing Marin and Keanu’s well-mannered Julien are the nicest young supporting actors you’ll ever see. Julien is bowled over by Erica’s independence and intellect. He is attracted to her mind because he is a fan of her work, but there is one scene that just kills me overtime. When he realises he’s attracted to her physically too. It’s a well placed and subtly acted moment on film. Marin has an honest and strong relationship with her mother, and is supportive of her in every way.
Frances McDormand is a bonus to any film. Her time on-screen is short but when she is, I have to say she steals the show every-time. Her ability to stir up laughs from a simple side-eye or well-timed reaction to whatever is going on around her is superb. I can’t even explain it, but I never take my eyes off what she’s doing when she’s doing it. Her fiercely smart, fair role as Zoe, Erica’s lecturer sister is a brilliant casting. She basically says everything most women are thinking and is used to call up every man and indeed woman who are happy to see imbalances in the matter of older male and female sexual endeavours.
The music flits between emotion inducing studio compositions and French tracks. In terms of setting, this movie really doesn’t move anywhere, a large chunk of the movie takes place in Erica’s place in the Hampton’s. A wonderfully clean picture of pastel yellows, greys, whites and painted white wood furniture. It’s such a middle class and up white America, it should actually be offensive to someone like me, but it isn’t. It’s a good story and even better remedy for bad days and lazy ones too.
*I seriously have no idea how I write these things unintentionally – just felt like i need to point this out)
next up …Broken Arrow