Saturday, December 19, 2020

Let Them All Talk: Movie Review

Small themes, well crafted characters.

Steven Soderbergh and Meryl Streep collaborations seem like they should be bigger than they are. The Laundromat made very little impact last year and Let Them All Talk seems destined for a similar fate this year. It’s going to have a small impact because it’s a small story. A simple tale of an older woman, a successful author, who has invited her friends on a cruise.   2020

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay by: Deborah Eisenberg

Starring: Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest and Lucas Hedges

It’s set over a week, all onboard a cruise ship. With a very fitting title, it’s a dialogue-heavy movie, exploring the friendships of three women, who were once close when they were in their 20s, now decades later that friendship is very fractured.

Alice (Meryl Streep) is the successful one, an author who wrote a few well received novels, one highly acclaimed one, and a few others the publishers would like to forget about it. She’s winning an award, but the ceremony is in England and she doesn’t fly. Her new, young agent, Karen (Gemma Chan) suggests taking a cruise across the Atlantic and Alice agrees, choosing to bring her friends along at the publisher’s expense and take this moment to see how Susan (Dianne Wiest) and Roberta (Candice Bergen) are doing now that they’re scattered across the country and their paths diverged years ago.

The intricacies to their relationship is gradually revealed throughout the story, and their current predicaments match their temperaments and reactions to moments long past. These are well crafted women with unique points of view. Soderbergh choosing to only reveal crucial pieces of information at key points really helps with keeping the interest level up. It is a slow film with very little happening so the lukewarm response to this film is not surprising.

Also on board is Alice’s nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges). He thinks she brought him along to be her assistant and to learn from her as she finishes her next novel. Karen decides to use him as a pawn in figuring out what Alice’s new novel is about and if it’s a sequel to the acclaimed one (good for the publishers) or a sequel to any of her other novels (bad for the publishers). Tyler is na├»ve, which is an interesting trait for a 20-ish New Yorker, and he mistakes Karen’s interest in him as romance. A small example of the few good moments of levity, which are all earned since they stem from characteristics already previously established.

The highlight is Candice Bergen. She provides most of the laughs and provides Roberta with a sharp edge from anger built-up over the past fifty years. Her turns from conniving to honesty are both funny and natural. She’s delightful and seriously earns an Oscar nomination for this performance. Unfortunately, she’s acting opposite Meryl Streep, who, for reasons unknown, is expected to get nominated for The Prom. Leaving Let Them All Talk as an afterthought for awards season.

This is a well written movie with well crafted characters and good performances. It’s on the small scale, and the small themes don’t leave much of an impact, and interest level is low if viewers don’t find the basic premise intriguing enough.