Susan Sarandon delivers one of her most richly satisfying performances in this insightful and winning comedy-drama about an incessantly doting mother who, after her husband passes away, follows her daughter (Rose Bryne) to Los Angeles and makes an unexpected connection with a local cop (J.K. Simmons).
Striking a winning balance of insight, heart, and laugh-out-loud hilarity, Lorene Scafaria's second feature stars the magnificent Susan Sarandon in one of her most richly satisfying roles. Foregrounding a character typically relegated to cinema's sidelines, The Meddler is about that force of nature known as the doting mother.
For Marnie Minervini (Sarandon), motherhood is not a familial duty. It's a vocation. A compulsive advice-giver, the recently widowed but ceaselessly cheerful Marnie cannot stop texting, calling, and showing up unannounced at the home of her daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne) — always with bagels to offer. Desperate to gain some control over her life following a messy breakup, Lori attempts to draw boundaries, but that only serves to unleash Marnie's meddling upon the greater Los Angeles area.
She starts to chauffeur the nice young Apple Store clerk to his college classes. She gives thousands of dollars to a not-especially-close friend of Lori's so she can have her dream wedding. Whether out of habit or in an unconscious avoidance of grief, Marnie can't stop being a mom to everyone she meets. But a chance encounter with a charismatic chicken-raising rent-a-cop (a suprisingly adorable J.K. Simmons) could spark a chance for Marnie to leave her characteristic supporting role behind and finally become the star of her own life.
Scafaria is a smart storyteller on so many levels: her observations on relationships, ethnic ties, and the difficulties of navigating romance after sixty are uniformly spot-on. Yet this film's greatest triumph is Marnie — maddening, lovable, and so very fun. This is a role worthy of Sarandon's tremendous talents.