I’m sorry because I don’t like to get out the whip when there’s no need, but this is what I wrote last September after seeing Bruce Beresford‘s Love, Peace and Misunderstanding (IFCFllms, 6.8) at the Toronto Film Festival:
“If you’ve ever been stuck in some hippy-dippy atmosphere or environment that you couldn’t escape from…if you’ve ever been more or less forced to spend time with graying, balding, pot-bellied, granola-slurping doobie-tokers…a prisoner of smiling people dressed in Mexican peasant shirts and sandals and beads and easy-fit jeans who won’t stop speaking in ’60s psycho-babble platitudes…if you’ve ever had to suffer this way, as I have once or twice over within the past 15 or 20 years, then Bruce Beresford‘s Love, Peace and Misunderstanding will bring it all back home.
“It’s pretty close to excruciating. How could the director of Breaker Morant and Tender Mercies make something like this? How could Jane Fonda, so bright and brilliant and transporting in B’way’s 33 Variations, give such an oppressively banal, cliche-spouting performance as an aging hippie grandma?
“The script is by Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski, and if I was an actor those names alone would scare me off.
“The only actor who comes through unscathed is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays a local carpenter-musician who falls for Fonda’s uptight daughter, played by Catherine Keener. Morgan brings his own alpha force field to the game. It’s not that Elizabeth Olsen and Chace Crawford, who play Keener’s children, are painful to watch but they give off a vibe of feeling vaguely trapped, which is how I more or less felt as I watched it.
“I talked to the son of a critic friend as I left, and he said ‘that might be the worst film I’ve ever seen.'”