Imagine ‘Clueless’ starring Susan Sarandon as an overbearing mum and you’re in the right ballpark for ‘The Meddler’, a sweet portrait of a woman coming to terms with losing the love of her life. Sarandon plays Marnie, a recent widow who uproots from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be closer to her depressed screenwriter daughter Lori (Rose Byrne).
But when Lori finds her mum’s affection suffocating, Marnie has no choice but to mother somebody else. Or, in this case, everybody else, beginning with one of the Genius Bar technicians at her local Apple store (Jerrod Carmichael), whom she befriends and starts driving to night school.
With a plot that plays like a string of incidental encounters, ‘The Meddler’ could easily have felt like a glorified sitcom. But Sarandon delivers a exuberant performance with care and conviction.
Marnie’s grief, her goodness and her complicated relationship with her daughter all feel so lived-in and true – perhaps not surprisingly, given that director Lorene Scafaria (who wrote the script for ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’) based the character on her own mum.