Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian // theadelaidian.net/author/georgina-tselekidis
Published May 23rd 2016
A delicate film that's bound to touch your heart
Starring Susan Sarandon and Australia's own Rose Byrne, The Meddler is a humourous, heartfelt and warming film about widow Marnie Minervini (Sarandon) from New Jersey who follows her daughter Lori (Byrne) to California in hopes of starting a new life. However, feeling lost, bored and alone after the death of her husband, Marnie spends her days smothering her daughter with numerous texts, voicemails and unexpected visits. Lori, a successful screenwriter, is forced to set personal boundaries, encouraging her mother to move on and 'get a life'. With a comfortable bank account, a thirst for technology and a genuine desire to help people, Marnie makes it her mission to channel her optimism and generous nature by changing the lives of others in a profound way.
The film commences with Marni laying in bed, watching the ceiling fan spin repetitively as she narrates the first opening scene; a sense of loneliness is instantaneously conveyed. As we're introduced to Marni, we're immediately drawn to her loving, gentle and beautiful character that holds a resemblance to the fondness we feel for our own mothers. Likewise, Lori is experiencing a series of unfortunate events that are beginning to impact her on an emotional level; the death of her father Joe, a recent breakup that's left her feeling lonely, sad and depressed, and lastly, the frustration at Marni's clinginess and dependency. With this, we see Lori push Marni away by ignoring her phone calls and texts, and reacting in a harsh manner when she visits. A shameful sense of guilt is evoked in the viewer, as it's easy to relate to the relationship between both protagonists and how we tend to take our mothers for granted.
Marni's affectionate and giving persona makes her an admirable character, as she volunteers to help at the hospital, donates money to Lori's friend's wedding, babysits in her spare time, and voluntarily drives her newly found friend Freddy to university, yet she still can't seem to help herself. Holding onto the past, her lost love and deceased husband, Marni shuts herself off from connecting further and developing any romantic relationship with another man. The fear of finally spreading her husband's ashes after two years of him passing is an example of her attachment, denial and separation anxiety. She attempts to distract herself from the reality of it all by overwhelming Lori with bountiful amounts of motherly love. Although Marni means well, she must let go and readily acknowledge her situation to truly move on and allow her daughter to simultaneously grow.
It's time for Marni to find a new purpose in life. With this, we see Marni's personal journey and disposition flourish, as she begins to find fulfillment in the simple things that ultimately mold her into a happy and content person. Her desperate attachment to her daughter decreases as she slowly befriends Zipper, a retired police officer who challenges Marni's situation and makes her question whether it's time to pull down her protective emotional barrier.
The Meddler successfully sparks the 'warm and fuzzies', evoking notions of how we treat others and ways in which we can improve; perhaps there is something holding you back? Although the primary and evident relationship that's portrayed in The Meddler is between Marni and Lori, it's also the relationship we have with ourselves that's just as important; feeling comfortable in our own skin, accepting a current dilemma, wanting to improve on a personal level and being alone without feeling lonely. Although Marni is needy and reluctant to move on, she's certainly not a victim. With a positive and hopeful outlook on life, Marni refuses to burden others with her problems and instead finds refuge by willingly helping strangers in anyway that she can, which is a trait we can all adopt. Susan Sarandon truly shines in this film, as she brings a three-dimensional layer to such a simple story line. Her performance is remarkable and dynamic, giving so much life to a character we effortlessly love. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria does exceptionally well in capturing a realistic scenario that is based on her mother's experience after her father died. Although a comedy, The Meddler simultaneously brings about deeply moving and relatable notions of grief and loss and the lonely journey of acceptance, moving on and finding purpose.
The Meddler is playing in participating theatres around Adelaide.