You might think you’ve seen Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding before in some incarnation or another, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Although the “aging hippie grandma reunites with daughter and grandchildren” story isn’t totally original, this film manages to put a fresh spin on the genre, with both the script and acting very well done.
Diane (Catherine Keener, Trust) is talking with her husband Mark (Kyle MacLachlan, TV’s Sex and the City) in their kitchen one day when he abruptly blurts out that he wants a divorce. Hurt by this news, she grabs the kids (Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Nat Wolff, New Year’s Eve, respectively) and makes the drive from NYC to Woodstock, back to her freewheeling mother (Jane Fonda, Georgia Rule) whom she hasn’t seen for the past twenty years. Grace is nonetheless delighted to see her daughter and grandchildren, and thus begins an epic few weeks for the clan.
Jane Fonda was great as Grace, the pot-smoking, hippie mother of Diane (Keener), a straight-laced lawyer from the city. Grace encourages Diane and her kids to loosen up, and there’s a particularly hilarious scene where Grace and her grandkids do pot together. Diane is still reeling from the news that Mark wants a divorce, but then she meets and falls for Jude (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Texas Killing Fields), an attractive carpenter and guitarist whom her mother knows. Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff get their romances as well – Olsen with a local butcher (Chace Crawford, aka Nate from TV’s Gossip Girl, proving here that he’s more than just a pretty face) and Wolff with Tara (newcomer Marissa O’Donnell), a girl his age who goes on protests with his grandma and her friends. Wolff’s character is an amateur filmmaker as well, and he records everything that happens and later makes it into a short film, called “Love in Woodstock,” that we see premiered at a film awards show near the end of the movie.
Yes, see this film. I loved the chemistry between the pairs of characters–Fonda and her daughter, the siblings, Olsen’s character and Chace Crawford–and the acting was great. The film has a lot of laughs in it, and at times plays more like a TV show than a movie; I wouldn’t mind seeing these characters in a recurring show either. The movie also wraps up nicely at the end with the film awards show, and the main characters are all reunited back in NYC. The movie is rated “R,” which surprised me – I thought it was PG-13 – but it’s rated “R” for “drug content and some sexual references.”
Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding is currently theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 96 minutes.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5