Director: Bruce Beresford
Starring: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
When New York lawyer Diane’s husband surprises her with a request for a divorce, her response is to take her two children to visit her mother with whom she has not spoken for twenty years. It sounds like the set up for a tense family drama until you add a couple of details. The mother, Grace, is an ageing hippie living in Woodstock and their estrangement was as a result of her being arrested for selling marijuana at Diane’s wedding.
Thematically, Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is a film about parents and children, specifically the need for children to accept the humanity of their parents. However, Australian director Bruce Beresford chooses not to delve too deeply into these themes, seemingly happy to let the film simply be a charming light comedy.
The film relies on heavily on stereotypical characters and formulaic situations. The fact that Diane, her daughter Zoe and son Jake all manage to meet their respective love interests within 24 hours of arriving in Woodstock is nothing if not convenient. It’s these sorts of things which leave you always feeling like you know exactly where the film is going.
Jane Fonda, who returned to acting in the mid-2000s after a 15 year retirement, here plays the hippie activist Grace, obviously a caricature of her own activist public persona. It’s a character we’ve seen many times before in films, as is Keener’s uptight lawyer, but the fact that it is Jane Fonda playing the role adds a great deal to the character by association.
Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is very formulaic and not particularly deep, but it isn’t trying to be anything more than it is. It is a charming picture with some likeable characters. Good harmless fun.
Rating – ★★☆
Review by Duncan McLean