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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Heartburn (1986)

A food writer (Meryl Streep) meets a Washington journalist (Jack Nicholson) at a mutual friend's wedding and soon after wedding bells are ringing for them. But his philandering ways places a great stress on their marriage which she attempts to hold together. Based on the novel by Nora Ephron (who did the screenplay) which was a thinly disguised roman a clef about her marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, Mike Nichols directs this amusing and prickly look at a mismatched marriage. We're seeing it from her side of course but even if her anger gives us a possibly lopsided view of the actual situation, it doesn't lessen the sting. The film's biggest problem is a miscast Jack Nicholson. Granted, he's supposed to be a prick so it's not that he's charmless but he's downright creepy. The guy (his character) never has a chance! Whether making piggy noises while gobbling his food or singing horrendously off key, he's repulsive. Some actors are so overpowering that they almost never can play everyday Joes, Nicholson is one of them. The understated score by Carly Simon includes the terrific Coming Around Again which inexplicably didn't get a best song Oscar nomination. The large supporting cast includes Kevin Spacey, Stockard Channing, Jeff Daniels, Maureen Stapleton, Steven Hill, Mercedes Ruehl, Catherine O'Hara, Richard Masur, Cynthia O'Neal, Joanna Gleason, John Wood, Caroline Aaron, Karen Akers and the director Milos Forman in a rare acting role.

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