An autobiographical look at the breakup of Ephron's marriage to Carl "All the President's Men" Bernstein that was also a best-selling novel. The Ephron character, Rachel is a food writer at... See full summary »
An autobiographical look at the breakup of Ephron's marriage to Carl "All the President's Men" Bernstein that was also a best-selling novel. The Ephron character, Rachel is a food writer at a New York magazine who meets Washington columnist Mark at a wedding and ends up falling in love with him despite her reservations about marriage. They buy a house, have a daughter, and Rachel thinks they are living happily ever after until she discovers that Mark is having an affair while she is waddling around with a second pregnancy. Written by
When Rachel begins a tape recording of her life with the baby, she identifies herself as "Rachel Samstat". There is no reason for her to use her maiden name, and in the rest of the movie she uses her married name. See more »
Uneven, but less manufactured than Ephron's subsequent films
Although somewhat artificial, the humor and "heartburn" of this Nora Ephron film seem more affecting and less manufactured than those in her more slick subsequent films, When Harry Met Sally... and Sleepless in Seattle. Perhaps the autobiographical slant helped.
Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson play a couple based on Ephron and Carl Bernstein. They meet, marry, settle in Washington, and have children. Streep's wedding-day jitters, it turns out, were amply justified; she discovers an affair between her husband and a social-climbing hostess.
Streep is so luminous and so natural that one may not realize until the end of the film how completely insipid and devoid of any distinguishing qualities her character is. "Rachel" changes from a wan, nervous divorcee (before meeting Nicholson's character) to an obsessively devoted wife and mother who keeps babbling about how happy she is.
Nicholson is well-cast as the rakish but (initially) endearing husband. The supporting cast reflects the expert hand of Juliet Taylor, Woody Allen's longtime casting director, who peppered it with many familiar faces, including Allen favorites Joanna Gleason, Caroline Aaron, and Karen Akers. Maureen Stapleton is particularly droll as Streep's shrink. Nineties audiences will enjoy seeing Kevin Spacey as a neurasthenic mugger.
The comedy in the film is somewhat uneven, but often extremely engaging, as in a running parody of "Masterpiece Theatre." And compare the spontaneous bravado of Nicholson's lopsided rendition of "Soliloquy" from Carousel (the comic highlight) to the forced quirkiness of Meg Ryan's tone-deaf "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" in When Harry Met Sally...
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