I was able to attend the Women's Media Center premiere of Peace, Love and Misunderstanding on Monday evening. As I was watching the movie, and the great Jane Fonda play a hippie stoner grandma with long flowing grey hair I thought to myself damn, this woman is good. It also made me think about her remarkable body of work as an actress.
I grew up watching most of her great early roles after the fact on TV. Two of my favorites are Julia and The China Syndrome. I can still watch both those films anytime. She has played such incredibly strong women. I distinctly remember when she appeared on TV in The Dollmaker in 1984. That was a time when people watched shows when they were on, and everyone watched Jane Fonda on TV because at that time, movie stars did not do TV. And she was a movie star. But she did that film because of the subject matter — poverty — and she was able to get all of us to watch a movie about the topic.
She disappeared from the screen when she was married to Ted Turner, but she has been making her way back (I liked Monster in Law and did not like Georgia Rules) and it will be interesting to see what kinds of roles can be written (so get to work!) for vibrant, sexy 70 something woman. She could give Helen Mirren a run for her money.
Peace Love and Misunderstanding is really a mother/daughter story. It's about how you can't choose your family and how you have to figure out how to let your baggage go. It's about forgiveness. Catherine Keener plays Fonda's daughter and she cut her mom out of her life 20 years earlier because she hated how she lived. She was mad and embarrassed after she had to bail her mother out of jail for selling pot. It's quite comfortable watching Fonda play a hippie because people already think she is one based on her politics, but she has made it clear in recent interviews that she has never been one. She and Keener actually do look like they could be related and play off each other really well. That's what you get when you have two top tier actors. Keener's character Diane has become a stuck up, stuffy lawyer who has kept her mom out of her kids lives because she could not get over herself. When her marriage falls apart she returns home to Woodstock and to the world she abandoned. She sees it is not as bad as she remembered and it is there that she finally learns to let go and to live again.
Film opens tomorrow in limited release. Info here.