A Deeper Look at “It’s Complicated”

Let’s be clear right here at the start.  This is a funny, funny movie; actually all the way through, if you’re only taking in the surface action. But,  watch out for all the deeper stuff in the undercurrent.

Speaking of surface here’s the plot line. Jane (Meryl Streep) has been divorced for 10 years from her ex-husband of 28 years, Jake (Alec Baldwin).  They have  3 (now grown) children together.  They  divorced because he cheated on her with a 20-year younger woman Agnes, to whom  he’s now married.  Jane’s hasn’t remarried; she lives alone. Even though the work part of her life goes well  (she owns a successful bakery/restaurant), she doesn’t have a dating life and  she’s self-conscious about her 50-something looks.

When the family goes to their son’s  college graduation, Jake goes alone; Agnes, his wife, is back home sick. Without planning it, Jake and Jane find they’re staying at the same hotel. They accidentally meet at the hotel bar where they drink, eat and dance  together.  They get drunk and end up in  bed together.

Back home, they continue their affair.  While that’s going on, Jane has  a few dates with Adam (Steve Martin), an architect who is designing an addition on her home.  That relationship progresses nicely until…..

Through an outrageous, very funny bunch  of circumstances Adam sees Jake in Jane’s bedroom naked.  It’s a hilarious scene but Adam now believes  that Jane has been lying to him all along about dating someone else.  He’s obviously hurt.

Her children are there during these  crazy moments and they learn that their parents have been having an affair since the graduation trip.  They’re  really disappointed in their mom but aren’t all that surprised at their dad’s  behavior. They leave the house, Jake leaves and Adam disconnects his computer (sorry; you’ll have to watch the movie to “get it”).

The next morning Jane collects herself, apologizes to the kids and then to Adam.  Jake asks again to come back to her. Again,  she says “No.”

In the end, she and Adam do get  together and it looks like they might have a great relationship based on honesty, genuine liking and respect for each other.  Adam is everything Jake isn’t.


A Deeper Look. 

(For a clearer understanding of what comes next, you might want to check out the four personality types.)

If you listen carefully to the  dialogue, particularly in the back half of the movie, there are so many clues about Jake’s manipulative personality.

He cheated on Jane with Agnes, now cheats on Agnes with Jane and apparently feels no guilt about it. He lies and  thinks that’s okay.  So, here’s a very charming guy with a good line, “Jane, I’ve never really known how to live without you.”  Because Jane believes him (she’s a naïve’ Pleaser, she actually thinks he’s sincere), she shares her feelings with him, but he immediately dismisses them. Jake doesn’t know how to listen or empathizeJake’s all about Jake.

Jake obviously has a deep belief that he can Control  Situations and Control Others to get what he wants at any given moment. And actually, he’s pretty good at it.  He’s always focused on what brings him Comfort instead of on the relationship.  Unfortunately, Jake just hasn’t grown up yet.  Jane says something like this to him the morning after their affair comes out.

On the other hand, Jane is a sensitive, deeper person, who has positive standards for her behavior.  Yes, she gradually understands that she made a bad mistake with Jake.  (Jane is a Pleaser and Pleasers always feel they have to give others what they want.)  Yes, she gets it that she had some confused feelings about him. But, in the end, she realizes that Adam is really the man that she admires and likes, precisely because he’s the opposite of Jake.  He’s smart, open, genuine (she can trust him), encouraging (he makes an endearing remark that her age is “one of his favorite things about her), and capable of a deep, committed relationship.  This guy has all the traits that Jake doesn’t.  He’s an adult, not a kid in an adult body.  Good for them that they found each other.

Hopefully, you’ll be aware of the “Jakes” in your life.  You’re entitled to a guy/gal who treats you with the honesty and respect you deserve.

Thanks for stopping by; if this movie sounds good to you, go rent and Enjoy.


Warmest regards until next time,


P.S.  There’s another theme for couples here:  “Opposites Attract” but that’s for another time.  Be sure to check back next Friday for another movie review, and check the main blog on Tuesday for new material.


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