Beginning as a comedic trope of the meddlesome needy mother imposing on her daughter’s life, The Meddler could have digressed into a story of codependency or farcical feminine competitiveness a la Monster-in-Law, but it didn’t. Susan Sarandon plays Marnie, a widow in denial who distracts herself with consumerism and shallow, yet intrusive, relationships with strangers around her. As her daughter pulls away to grieve her father’s death and rebuild her life after the end of a long-term relationship, Marnie also tries to find her emotional autonomy. Having moved to Los Angeles to be closer to her adult daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), Marni finds comfort in helping people, however initially selfishly-incentivized, and finds herself being romantically pursued by a retired cop-turned-Harley fanboy, Zipper (J.K. Simmons).
As Marnie’s new relationships transition to fair-weather friendships, she attempts to find balance between strength and vulnerability while allowing this new man to help fill her emotional void. The Meddler explores a snapshot of life that most women under 60 prefer not to think about: the eventual death of significant others, caring for oneself once truly alone, and coping with life in transition as an able-bodied senior. However eye-rollingly phony some characters in The Meddler may be at times, the film as a whole contains a poignant commentary: that regardless of age, you will never stop growing as a person.
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