I grew up with Meg Ryan, Holly Hunter, Debra Winger, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. These were the women I saw regularly on the screen. They were familiar and they represented something very important that you don’t find on the screen often enough today….ordinary women with ordinary problems, much of what revolved around love and finding one’s self. When Harry Met Sally, Broadcast News, Private Benjamin, Terms of Endearment, to name a few. It was the era of rom com’s and these films had a deep impact on me. Whenever these women return to the screen, I run to the cinema to not only see what they are doing now, but to have memories flood my mind of the movies that used to be made.
Director and screenwriter Nancy Meyers has been at the helm of many rom com’s in the 80’s and 90’s – so many memorable ones from The Parent Trap to Something’s Gotta Give to The Holiday to It’s Complicated. They were all generally about a woman finding herself later in life, much like myself today……
There haven’t been many memorable rom-com’s since, so it seems logical that Meyers’ daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who grew up on the set of all her mom’s movies in shape or form, is bringing the genre back with her new film Home Again. I was lucky to screen it last week with my own daughter, who is fourteen years old and extremely influential and interested in movies. I was thrilled to be at a smart movie with her that revolves around good, old-fashioned story telling with a woman at the helm and another woman in the starring role. In this case, that’s Reese Witherspoon, who plays a divorced woman in her 40’s who sets out to restart her life on her own, with two kids in tow.
Getting divorced with young kids is more common today than ever before. Stats reveal that 50% of all children in the U.S. will witness the divorce of their parents. Divorce isn’t easy, but women are more educated today – they are more courageous. We have watched our own mothers go through certain types of struggles and we know what we want for our own lives. This is a film about a woman who chooses a better life for herself, and it’s a realistic look at the obstacles and choices that exist.
Witherspoon was the perfect choice for this lead role. She’s also someone I’ve grown up with, though she must be my age. She’s extremely likable and relatable, and she’s really funny, much like Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton from some of my earlier rom com’s. She easily goes along with the joke that her character is an “older” woman, and it’s refreshing. Her character, Alice, is very much going through the “what do I do next” phase of life, that all of us go through at some point. Should she get divorced, can she have a fling, how desperate is she for work, what is her next step. These aren’t easy decisions when you have children.
When we meet Alice, she has just left her husband, played by Michael Sheen, and moved back to Los Angeles, her hometown. Soon after arriving, she meets three filmmakers, played by Nat Wolff, Jon Rudnitsky, and Pico Alexander, and she is forced to make decisions about being an adult with two children, despite the temptation to act like they don’t exist. The three guys move in with her, out of desperation while negotiating a film deal, and they end up getting close to her and her daughters while her husband tries to figure out his place in their lives. Their presence actually enables her to discover what she is looking for in life, and so much more.
Happily for me, Alice’s mom is played by the legendary Candice Bergen, which adds to my nostalgia of reliving this type of movie. I hope that this is the first of many rom com’s to come for us living in 2017. This is the type of movie I want to continue to see and bring my daughter to. To see a female character not that different to myself on celluloid – that is everything.
Home Again starts on Friday, September 8th.