This isn’t a review: I’m too emotionally involved. Here’s the thing about this film. I thought it was going to be a safe watch. I mean, Nancy Meyers, right? She wrote The Holiday, which I unashamedly pronounce my all-time favourite good-bad Christmas film. It started with a male voice-over, and that’s what I was expecting from the whole thing. It was going to be a nice fluffy film with too much about the boring old guy and some hyper-stereotypical power woman. It’s not. And maybe don’t go, if that’s what you’re expecting.
I thought Anne Hathaway was the wrong pick for the savvy CEO role, but it turns out she’s perfect, because Jules is smart, driven, vulnerable and struggling. She’s trying to be the perfect 21st-century woman, and Meyers wants to push a conversation about what that looks like: how do you have a job and a husband and daughter? How do you be all things to all people all the time? It’s pretty heavy-handed, but surprisingly heartfelt.
There’s a scene in the film where de Niro’s character, Ben, and Jules are sitting in a hotel room, and Jules breaks down over her family life. “You know me, Ben,” she sobs, “I’m not easy.” No, that doesn’t mean what you’re thinking. She’s talking about being someone who’s hard to deal with: the classic “high maintenance” woman. This is, of course, where your humble reviewer had to hold off the tears (in the name of professionalism) and make her way to the bathroom not-too-quickly after the film ended in order to start sobbing.
Because here’s the thing: Meyers presents us with a real woman here, something all too rare. And sure, the character still plays into certain tropes, and there’s weird mental illness jokes, and the soundtrack is hideous, but at the end of the day, there’s something that hits home about this film. So here’s to you, Nancy Meyers. Here’s to us—the women who aren’t easy. But especially the women who write characters like us, because in today’s Hollywood, that sure as hell can’t be fun either.
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