Let Them All Talk

By Joanna Langfield

How delicious is this?

Tantalizing on many levels, this cinematic experiment lands as a wonderful treat. Should a bare bones production feel this impressively polished? Why not? After all, how wrong can you go when you have Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Weist, Emma Chan and Lucas Hedges on board (literally, they’re, for most of the film on the Queen Mary), improvising from a Deborah Eisenberg short story, with the savvy Stephen Soderbergh leading the way?

Here’s the juicy set up. Streep plays an accomplished novelist, who wrangles her way onto a trans-Atlantic crossing. She needs to bring along her adored nephew, of course, and why not get the cruise line to hop for her two best friends from college, women she loves but hasn’t seen in about 30 years? Because, of course, there are reasons the trio hasn’t hung together in so long. And maybe, just maybe, those wrongs can be made right with some fine wine and dining somewhere in the middle of the ocean.

Streep is the somewhat flighty cog in this revolving wheel, surrogate parenting the always terrific Hedges, hesitant to warm to the young agent she’s been assigned (a lovely Chan), falling back into rhythm with the sharper than she looks Weist but not all too clear on how to heal old wounds with a grand Bergen. The fact that the actors are pretty much improvising as they go along is, of course, creatively remarkable, as is Soderbergh’s almost one man band approach to filming it all. But, if you don’t know all that, what’s even more notable is that you wouldn’t know it by watching. This is a piece that looks and feels as good as almost any bigger budget one out there, but, thanks to the talent involved, maybe even a bit more yummy.