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Six things about Peace, Love & Misunderstanding:
1. Yes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan really does look like Javier Bardem. So much so that I turned to my wife at one point and said: "I didn't realize that Bardem could speak English so flawlessly; too bad the strain of keeping that American accent has stunted his acting ability".
2. Great to see Rosanna Arquette, albeit in a bit part.
3. Woodstock looks like a really beautiful place.
4. The kids in this movie really can act, especially Elizabeth Olsen. Best Supporting Actress nominee: you heard it here first.
5. I grew up in the late 60's and early 70's and, despite some quibbles about the way in which the leftover hippies in this movie are portrayed, I was impressed by the ability of the young writers to steer away from some of the more obvious stereotypes (not completely, mind you - I don't think there is really a Kesey-esque psychedelic school bus anymore outside the props departments of the Hollywood studios). Perhaps they got the tone right because of the input from one of the era's cultural icons.
6. Thereby bringing us to Jane Fonda who, unfortunately, was ill and couldn't attend the world premiere last night in Toronto. She is just great in this film, in a role that could easily have fallen into parody (even self-parody). Sure, an ex-hippie in her 70's probably wouldn't be as heavily made up, but this is a Hollywood movie and she is a movie star. She is at once charming, spacey, provocative and slightly raunchy.
All in all, a really nicely written and lovingly directed and acted film. I hope it does well.
Funny comment in the last user review. The bus in the movie was not a prop. It just happened to be there on the property where they were filming already. If you go to Woodstock, indeed in many towns in the Hudson Valley, you will still see quite a few psychedelic painted vehicles. Many of the extras used in the film live in the area. They all just dressed and acted normally. Woodstock is Woodstock! The writing and acting may have seemed exaggerated, but if anything, it was downplayed. Check out the motorcycle gang - they are really members of the local motorcycle club. I viewed the movie at the Woodstock film festival and it was fun to watch everyone that was in the film enjoy seeing themselves on the big screen.
This movie is splendid! I had forgotten that Jane Fonda is an excellent actress. The scenery, with the landscape and vintage "props", is a wonderful reminder of the years that birthed care for the earth, inclusivity, and questioning the status quo. The story profiles the inevitable misunderstandings between generations, and the life lessons we can teach one another. Perhaps this is a movie enjoyed more by women, but many young men participated in the hippie culture, and many of today's women and men were conceived in fields of wildflowers. Although the film profiles a narrow 10-to-15-year span in our history, it provides an intimate glimpse into that era, to be enjoyed by multiple generations. I hope to see it again soon, because there was simply too much to "take in" in one viewing.
It is not often that a film appears that looks like it may just be
background noise for a lazy evening and turns our to be a jewel of a
movie. But that is what happens when discovering PEACE, LOVE AND
MISUNDERSTANDING. Written by first timers Christina Mengert and Joseph
Muszynski who also are the film's producers, and directed with splendid
sensitivity for character and detail by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss
Daisy, Breaker Morant, Tender Mercies, Bride of the Wind, Mao's Last
Dance, etc), this is a story that so easily could have dropped of the
edge of the cliff as a flop but instead becomes a transporting study of
family, of coming of age, of second chances, and of fining self in this
often absurd world in which we live. The cast, down to the most
minuscule bit player, is outstanding: this film is likely to be a
career boost for all involved.
Uptight obsessive compulsive lawyer Diane (Catherine Keener) lives in New York and at film's opening is told by her husband Mark that he wants a divorce. Diane decides to escape the disorganized trauma of that announcement by taking her two teenagers - geeky video camera addict and virginal Jake (Nat Wolff) and vegan daughter Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) - to visit Diane's hippy mother Grace (Jane Fonda, in a brilliant performance) whom she hasn't seen for 20 years (Grace sold Marijuana to Diane's friends at Diane's wedding and has never been forgiven): Grace lives in Woodstock, a town that has retained its hippie flavor since the 1960s. Thinking they will only stay for a couple of days the visiting fractured family ends up staying on while Diane slowly appreciates the strange and wacky but intensely felt life her mother has embraced. Diane meets Jude (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who slowly breaks down Diane's carefully controlled existence, Zoe is attracted to the local butcher Cole (Chace Crawford, definitely a talent to watch) and despite her loathing of slaughtering animals for food she gradually discovers similarities in the tow of them, and Jake falls for Tara (Marissa O'Donnell) - his first physical experience. Stir all those ingredients, add some hilarious evening of women howling at the full moon, some surprises in character development, and town full of retro-flowerchild status and the film just soars.
One of the many reasons this film works so well is the outstanding performance by the always beautiful and gifted Jane Fonda, but Keener, Morgan, Olsen, Crawford and Wolff are also in top form. For an American comedy that leaves the viewer feeling on top of the world, this movie has it all.
Yes, comedy! It's a refreshing look at the culture of the 60's and the cynicism of those who look back and try to make sense of all the facets of American society that were called into question during the period. The facets still exist! Out of it comes a funny portrayal of what the confusion/clarity looked like (looks like) as people worked it out, tried to love one another, and made mistakes, as only humans can...with great intentions all firing at once. Congratulations to the director, the cast, the writers, for this delightful romp. I laughed, learned humility, and relished the human comedy that we are, now, as we try to still (once again) Love over generational lines - adult to child, etc. God Bless you for the effort - I hope those who can relax, let go, without a toke, or with, can enjoy your message for what it is - human - very funny, sometimes just plain dumb. Please do not over intellectualize it, just enjoy the darn thing! This movie actually had a kind of "Doris Day" feel to it. Delightful and simple on the surface, but underneath, lots of some good messages about healing one another. I've read what some critics have said, and I wanna say, go to church, get over yourself, calm down, just enjoy the silliness of life, be reverent - be still. Kids do it and so should we, then we will hear each other!!!!
Kudos to Bruce Beresford for making a really great film with heart and soul. All the cast are amazing - especially Jane Fonda as the grandmother, she really pops in this one. Chase Crawford is hot and homegrown, as is the Javier Bardem - look a like - Jeffrey Dean Morgan. We'd like to see more of him. Catherine Keener is believable as the uptight attorney. I felt a little cheated that Patricia Arquette was not in more scenes, one can only surmise she hit the cutting room floor. Loved seeing the Woodstock locals and the location used as characters. I was in the story for the complete ride. Timeless story. A must see. Why is it only in one theater here in New York?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A beautifully written film. Very well-cast. Beautifully acted. And
sometimes it's nice, and necessary, to juxtapose life's observations
with concrete examples.
I don't know if I'm giving anything away, but here goes:
Very 'put-together' husband asks very 'put-together' wife for a divorce. After wife's initial barb, her first reaction is: I'm taking the kids to Mom's. Natural, "I'm going to my mother's with the kids!" Sounds normal, right? We learn very quickly, there are issues between wife and Mom. This is where the film's strength lies. Even though she has deliberately stayed away for years, instinct has kicked in, against all intellect, and she needs to go back to where her issues took root. All the necessary characters are there to guide each person through their journey of discovery and road to self-awareness. But, the subtleties are there as well.
Superb acting nods to Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, & Jeffrey Dean Morgan as usual. A couple of brilliant small parts for Rosanna Arquette and Joyce Van Patten. But, also, HUGE kudos to Elizabeth Olsen & Nat Wolff for outstanding performances (whether they receive recognition from awards shows, or not), this film would not have succeeded without them.
I have watched it twice in the last 24 hours with sister. We both loved it and feel it is the next Steel Magnolias. Hubby even tolerated it and we heard him chuckle a few times. I should have been at Woodstock instead of Joplin MO and born way too late! Jane Fonda's role was the mother i wished I had. A pot-dealing hippie type that was so believable. Her uptight daughter, NYC attorney played by Catherine Keener was great as well. The children's roles were sweet and had just enough sibling rivalry that it was real if not a bit too sweet. The guys in the film were all hot and made you want to take them home for yourself, even though both are too young for me! giggle giggle!
This is a really great movie.
I cannot understand why anyone would say otherwise because there is not a dull moment in this movie as it has a bit of everything, from laughing to crying because the actors are able to have you feel what they are portraying.
It is a movie about accepting others for who they are and most importantly it is about forgiveness and learning to enjoy life.
I must add what wonderful acting there is from all of the entire crew. Anytime a movie can pull you in to the point of being able to feel their emotions then you know that they have done a great job.
Jane Fonda is just terrific. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was as amazing as he always is. I have to add how cute Chance Crawford is.
It is a great reminder that sometimes we all need to slow down and take a look around us and just enjoy the moment we are in.
I have never been one for the hippie lifestyle, and yet "Peace, Love
and Misunderstanding" tries to convince its audience that free loving,
loose morals and zero financial security can be better for the soul and
family relations than a job, responsibility and a house in the city.
Diane (Catherine Keener), single after being divorced from her husband,
moves her two teenagers to Woodstock, just for the weekend, to live
with her hippie mother Grace (Jane Fonda).
She thinks the country will be good for them but is wary of her mother's unorthodox ways. So was I. The film really isn't trying to preach, which is good, but it is trying to be yet another dysfunctional family dramedy, which is not good. The weekend turns into a week and then a summer, because, surprise, Diane finds solace and romance in the Woodstock music and the quirkiness of a small town.
The hippie characters were much more real than just stereotypical caricatures probably because actual townsfolk were a majority of the bit-players. There was way more care put into the writing of the supporting characters than you would usually find in a similar Hollywood production. The "hippie-ness" of it all was less extreme, definitely toned down, but it still doesn't mean that they can be emotive and deserving of our sympathies and empathies, let alone be the subject of a dysfunctional family dramedy (not that anybody should be).
The supporting characters that I did like were Diane's two teenage kids, Jake (Nat Wolff) and Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen). Jake is a geeky, aspiring filmmaker, insecure and inexperienced around girls. His small coming-of- age steps seemed natural and very endearing. Zoe is a more self-assured, independent 16 year-old, but seems to be following in her grandmother's footsteps, more than her mother's, and one starts questioning how well she knows herself. She also has great chemistry with her love interest, Cole (Chace Crawford). Starting to become the norm, Olsen was the best of the cast.
The cast also includes Jane Fonda and the usually underrated Catherine Keener, but their selfish, grating characters with Fonda's inconsistency and Keener's blandness is what costs "Peace, Love and Misunderstanding" a shot of at least being passable entertainment. It could have gotten another star or two if the kids were the leads.
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