Review: Sharp ‘Meddler’ marks Sarandon’s best in years

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Susan Sarandon has her best role in years in “The Meddler,” a delightful and sharp comedic drama about life, love, letting go and moving on.

Sarandon stars as Marnie Minervini, who, following the death of her husband, relocates to Los Angeles from New Jersey to be near her daughter Lori (a wonderfully exasperated Rose Byrne). With a wealth of time on her hands and a fortune to her name, Marnie fills her days inserting herself into Lori’s life, as well as into the lives of Lori’s friends (Cecily Strong is a bride-to-be who lets Marnie plan her wedding), an employee at her local Apple store (Jerrod Carmichael in a charming turn) and a patient at the hospital where she volunteers.

Marnie is wide-eyed and well intentioned, bristling only when men get too close to her. She has yet to fully reconcile her husband’s death, and acts as a busy body to avoid having to deal with the loss.

That changes when she meets an ex-cop named Zipper (J.K. Simmons, quietly dazzling), who breaks through her defenses. Sarandon and Simmons are so good together you wish the movie was just about their relationship.

But writer-director Lorene Scafaria (“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”) has more on her mind, and her layered script nails everything from the ins and outs of mother-daughter relationships to the comedy of sexagenarians dealing with technology. Sarandon, her put-on accent aside, is luminous in her role, perhaps never moreso than when she chomps a mouthful of pot and observes the dancing fountains at L.A.’s the Grove. Watching her, you’ll get a similar feeling of giddy euphoria.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘The Meddler’

GRADE: A-

Rated PG-13: For brief drug content

Running time: 100 minutes