Meryl Streep gives a Master's class in acting with her performance in this film. Ironically, the skillful way she can change her emotions on a dime, phasing in and out of blissful incredulity and simple despair can't be taught. In writer/director Nancy Meyer's latest rom-com, Streep plays Jane, an empty nest divorcee who finds herself suddenly being re-wooed and won by her cheating, charismatic ex-husband, Jake (played cunningly by 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin).
Jane is on the verge of a mid-life crisis - her kids are all grown up and she is facing a future of watching the Hills all alone in her spacious (gorgeous, scenic, straight-out-of-a-catalog) Santa Barbara home for the first time. Her friends tell her she needs to get back out there, but you can sense that she has already resigned herself to loneliness. Just then she has a casual meeting with her new architect, Adam (Steve Martin, in a subdued and heartfelt role), a soft-spoken gentleman whose own marital experiences had left him bruised and battered. His plans for her home are a metaphor - he seems instantly attuned to her needs and has no trouble complying with her demands (in the form of 47 emails), whereas her ex, when he sees the plans, immediately attempts to alter them -It's a short, but brilliantly insightful exchange.
In New York celebrating their son's college graduation, Jane and Jake find themselves at the hotel bar each alone, as Jake's trophy wife has stayed home nursing his sick step-son. In a whirlwind of wine, reminiscing and dancing they find themselves in bed together, Jane confused and hungover, and Jake happy as a clam. It's here that Baldwin shines. He weaves a web of charm, regret and remorse that Jane is unable to untangle. After their second rendez-vous, and an impromptu trip to her therapist for advice (a truly human scene from Streep), Jane decides to dive head first into a full-on affair.
From there, the title of the film is fully realized. Jane is conflicted because she is rediscovering herself in the context of the affair, all the while she is commanding the attention and affection of Adam the architect. She knows he's battlescarred and the details of his pain, but the history with Jake is pulling her focus. It all comes to a head, as expected, and everybody gets hurt. However, Meyer's constructs a conclusion that plays out for the best - and the lessons that Jane and Jake learn inform very grounded discussions, and equally human decisions.
Over the last decade, Nancy Meyers has provided the American Rom-Com library with some aesthetically beautiful films -filled with scenic landscapes, lavish interiors, lyrical sophisticated jazz and rich performances from skilled actors in films such as "The Holiday", "Something's Gotta Give and "What Women Want." This film continues that tradition, and the result is a heartfelt, humorous, realistic exploration into the perils of post-divorce life. It's Complicated is simple answer to how to spend your next free night at the multiplex.