“Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding”: Disappointing

Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding: a new movie that stars some great female actors and that has the sound of something right up my alley—something I actually want to want to see. (Note: That double want-to is not a typo. My first step is wanting to want. The next is checking it out before deciding.)

Its tagline:

 Life is a journey. Family is a trip.

A summary of the film’s premise: Lawyer Diane (Catherine Keener) takes her teenager Jake (Nat Wolff) and daughter Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) to see their grandmother Grace (Jane Fonda) at her place in Woodstock. Neither kid has ever met Grace because Diane has been estranged from her for 20 years.

The Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding trailer:

So, the crisis that precipitates Diane’s trip to see her mom is that her marriage is ending. But why? She’s been estranged for 20 years and for good reasons.

And then there’s the more obvious. Amy BiancolliSan Francisco Chronicle: “The answer to everyone’s thorny psychological issues? Why, romance, of course! Trite, cloying romance with three supporting hotties who just happen to be standing around.”

But here’s a more positive perspective from critic Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: “The push and pull between mother and daughter provides many of the film’s better moments, but it is most moving when the camera catches Grace watching from a distance as Diane blossoms, a reminder of how Fonda can speak volumes with a look…”

Additionally, Sharkey throws out a reminder of a significant title element: “There is the matter of the ‘misunderstanding,’ a secret that slips out and seriously rocks the boat.”

That’s surely the thing that will provide some needed and compelling dramatic tension?! A big secret! So, the ending will be quite juicy, huh…?

Christy LemireAssociated Press: “For a movie that’s supposed to be about complicated issues of family and identity, it’s all very neat and tidy. And we haven’t even gotten to the cringe-inducing moment when Diane literally unties a balloon from a sandbag to represent her willingness to let go.”

Whereas most of the female critics are not impressed, interestingly, some of the top male critics are. Kind of. Here’s one:

Rex Reed, New York Observer: “Everyone learns something, in follow-the-dots movie predictability, but you like the characters so much you want them to smile and find peace in new beginnings and fresh family bonds. They bring their own hang-ups and learn to change gracefully.”

Well, okay. But, in the end, I’m simply not at peace seeing a movie no one can really love. That I could ever imagine I’d enjoy it was just one big misunderstanding after all.

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