Not every movie is, or has to be, an Event. Sometimes all I ask of a film is that it offer a pleasant diversion for an hour and a half. That’s exactly what I got from Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding. I fear it may get a critical drubbing during the heated atmosphere of the current movie season, but I stand by my opinion. It’s an amiable film with an appealing cast in a highly attractive setting.
Catherine Keener plays an uptight New York City lawyer who, upon being told by her husband (Kyle MacLachlan) that he wants a divorce, packs up her teenage kids (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) and heads to Woodstock, New York, where she drops in—unannounced—at the home of her mother (Jane Fonda), whom she hasn’t seen in twenty years! Mom is an unreconstructed hippie, and the communal, laid-back atmosphere of Woodstock has a profound effect on every member of the visiting family. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chace Crawford offer potential love interest for Keener and Olsen, respectively.
The characters, as written by Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski, fall into recognizable pigeonholes, as does the trajectory of the story, but in the hands of these skilled, highly watchable actors, it’s still quite enjoyable. Australian director Bruce Beresford knows how to get the best out of his cast, and how to showcase the beauty and tranquility of upstate New York.
Other movies will attract more attention this summer, but Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding has Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth Olsen—and that’s more talent than you’ll find in a many bigger, bolder summer releases. It definitely kept me entertained.