Plot: A drama exploring the romantic past and emotional present of a dying woman
I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to watching this film, especially after reading the lukewarm reviews. Not even the extensive list of stars on the DVD case could lure me in: Claire Danes, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, and Vanessa Redgrave as well as Meryl herself. So early on a Sunday evening I began to watch, not expecting very much from the experience. It’s not until two hours into the film that Meryl actually appears, as the present day version of the character played by her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer. She is great and the scene with herself and Vanessa Redgrave in bed together is one of the film’s best, but the rest of the film lets her down.
For fans of the book, their main problem with the film adaptation is that it ramps up the sentimentality, and pulls focus to Hugh Dancy’s minor gay character. The nihilistic nature of the original text is softened to a love story that wouldn’t be out of place in a Nicholas Sparks novel.
We are mysterious creatures, aren’t we? And at the end so much of it turns out not to matter.
– Lila Wittenborn
The critics weren’t very complimentary of the film at the time, the feriocity of which was likely intensified by the strength of the cast. With so many big-hitters, expectations were high and the film didn’t manage to deliver. In saying that, I don’t think that it is as awful as many of the cirtics would have you believe, in fact, I quite enjoyed it for what it is. But this is inessential Streep, not one to rush to watch and not one to revisit.