Sunday, November 6, 2011

Film review: "Heartburn" (1986)

I was sifting through my Meryl dvd collection and realized that I hadn't watched Heartburn in forever. I now remember why: it sucks. Poor Joe had to suffer through some of it as well, but I didn't feel too bad, as I tend to suffer through playing his board games. Love you, babe! Meryl's performance however doesn't suck and Jack Nicholson is his usual great self, but it was tough not to feel like slapping the two main characters after a certain point. Mike Nichols directs the screenplay written by Nora Ephron, in a sort of semi-autobiographical telling of her own divorce after her husband's affair.

Meryl plays Rachel, a Washington journalist, who meets Mark (Nicholson) at a wedding and they instantly spark up a relationship. Mark is the stereotypical playboy who has never had a long-lasting relationship and evidently has historically treated women like shit. Not so with first. He eventually cheats on her as well, while they an 18 month-old daughter and another on the way. This film is a great example of how Meryl isn't afraid of looking bad onscreen. There are several scenes where she physically looks like crap, but she of course embraces it, as it's fitting to the character. That was sort of a random thought. Anyway, after the affair is discovered, the rest of the film is basically scene after scene of Rachel acting like a neurotic mess, trying to decide if her marriage is salvageable. Ultimately, she decides things are never going to change, and she leaves Mark for good.

I don't want to poo poo the movie too much, as it's smartly written, although a bit weird at times. My favorite part is the fact that Rachel's daughter is played by Meryl's real daughter, Mamie (now herself a notable actress). I recall Meryl saying at her AFI lifetime achievement ceremony that Mamie got a better review in the NY Times than she did. Super cute. I found a clip that shows all the brief scenes with Mamie, and it includes my favorite, when Meryl speed feeds her while delivering lines. Brilliant.

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