“Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding”: Not So Positive Reviews

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 brief excerpt from the film description on the website:

For uptight Manhattan lawyer Diane (Oscar-nominee Catherine Keener), crazy means driving her teenage son Jake (Nat Wolff) and daughter Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) to Woodstock to visit their grandmother Grace (Jane Fonda). The crazy part is that the kids have never met Grace. In fact, Diane hasn’t spoken to her mother in twenty 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. Says critic Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger:

Because, at this vulnerable point in her life, it’s time to seek out the hippie-dippie mother she absolutely hates. The mother she actually had arrested for selling dope. The mother she blames for everything, and whom she has not seen or spoken to in 20 years.
Plausibility, I’d like you to introduce you to ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.’ ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding,’ this is Plausibility.

Because clearly you two have never met.

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.

Marshall Fine, Hollywoodandfine.com:

…(E)verything in this film is so on-the-nose that it turns into the place where subtlety goes to die…

The occasional moments of genuine emotion are swept aside by the contrived confrontations between parent and child.

But wait, 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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