The Meddler Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons. Directed by Lorene Scafaria. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday in select theaters.
TV writer Lori (Rose Byrne) finds her mother Marnie (Susan Sarandon) irritating and overbearing, and for the first half-hour or so of The Meddler, it’s hard to disagree with her. Widowed and relocated to LA (where Lori lives) from her native New Jersey, Marnie spends all her time attempting to micro-manage her daughter’s life and inserting herself into the business of everyone from Lori’s friends to the tech support guy at the Apple Store. Over the course of the movie, Sarandon and writer-director Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) reveal more about Marnie’s sadness and loss, and the way that her meddling keeps her genuine despair at bay.
Eventually, just like Lori and the rest of the characters, the audience comes to accept and even embrace Marnie for all of her inappropriate intensity, and she too comes to accept this new phase of her life, whether by dating a kind retired cop (J.K. Simmons) or by letting Lori make her own mistakes. The Meddler is a sweet, low-key dramedy that is a little unfocused at times, but it emerges as a poignant late-in-life coming-of-age story, proof that maturity and wisdom can arrive at any age.