Two Meryl Streep releases within a month! What have we done to deserve this? The Prom and now Let Them All Talk are as different from each other as say Sophie’s Choice and The Devil Wears Prada. No two films of Meryl go down the same Streep. And this one is as distanced from her other distinguished works as the land from the ocean. I say this in the hope of sounding clever. For, Let Them All Talk (available on Amazon Prime) is set in a luxury cruisier where author Alice Hughes (Streep) is stuck with her old college friends. I say ‘stuck’ because they were close at one time—or so we are told—though there seems little reason for Alice to have invited the acid-tongued reprehensibly self-serving Roberta (Candice Bergen) and the sweeter-than-autumn-right-to-the-bottom Susan(Diane Wiest).
Also along for the joyride (?) is Alice’s favourite nephew Tyler and it’s one of this faintly likeable film’s pleasures to watch the seasoned Streep and the young talent Lucas Hedges fudge their way through breakfast conversations in what looks like a scriptless voyage into mid-ocean.
Stranded in the azure waters, the actors do what they know best. Act. I am not sure why all these talented actors agreed to be a part of a film that is so haphazard in design and execution. The understated but undeniable conflict between people who were once close but are now torn apart irredeemably, reminded me of Woody Allen’s cinema, except that here we are not supposed to laugh when Roberta comes into Alice’s room and asks her to pay up the money for using her (Roberta’s) life in her last book. This, after being invited by Alice for a free joyride, is a laugh.
But we really can’t do that. Not when the above sequence ends in abject tragedy. Let Them All Talk is still watchable for the performances, not just Streep who is…well Streep (and that’s all we need to know) but also Diane West and Candice Bergen, the latter no longer the sexy lissome lass from The Wind & The Lion but nonetheless still a ball of fire who can cut the wind with her leonine gaze. Hedges as the nephew struggles to give coherence to a part that requires the young actor to be in awe of Meryl Streep and the character she’s playing.
Oh yes, there also a literary agent, played by Gemma Chan, on board. What is she doing there? What are they all doing in this film? Soderberg shot this film on the ship from a wheelchair. This could be the distinguished casts of saying thank you.
Directed by Steven Soderberg, Let Them All Talk Gets 2 and a half stars.
Image source: youtube/HBOmax,imdb
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