The Meddler

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 43min

STARRING: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons

Two's company: Sarandon (left) and Byrne

After the death of her husband, Marnie Minervini (Sarandon) is unmoored. Having relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles, where her daughter, TV writer Lori (Byrne, fine-tuning exasperation), lives, Marnie is maternal to a fault and Lori, reeling from a break-up, isn't feeling the smother love.


"I can't do this anymore. I need to get a life of my own," are hardly the words any mother is hanging out to hear. Lori says them, anyway, then heads to New York for work, leaving Marnie to artlessly insert herself into other people's lives rather than brave any close romantic encounters in her own. Retired cop Zipper (Simmons) might have a shot at her defences with his fatherly smile and his folksy penchant for chooks, but this Noo Joisey filly is more skittish than she looks.


Writer-director Lorene Scafaria, to whose own mother Marnie is a tribute, obviously loves her reality-grounded characters to bits. Sarandon, too, has Marnie down in all her neediness, loneliness and boundless generosity. A mama hen is a potential buttinski cliché, but so caring is their mutual intent that Marnie's wholehearted interference becomes a beautiful, complete picture of a woman in midlife re-learning herself.