The new movie It's Complicated features a former couple, Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin), who have the perfect divorce. After 10 years apart, they can chat at a party. They celebrate milestones in their children's lives without causing a scene. Their three young adult children bounce seamlessly between their parents. It's all very sophisticated.
But it's not as easy as it seems.
Jane confides to a friend that it took her two and a half years just to start feeling normal, many more to put her life back together. Even now, she accepts but cannot embrace his new younger wife.
Jane's fragile sense of normalcy is thrown upside down when she has dinner with Jake the night before their son's college graduation. They drink some wine, rekindle the old flame, and end up in bed together. Add to the mix Jane's growing friendship and attraction to Adam (Steve Martin), a man crushed by his own recent divorce.
The film (rated R for some drug content and sexuality) is funny at times, as Jake and Jane try to hide their renewed relationship from the world. Jane swings between guilt and glee at having beaten out the younger, hotter woman.
However, even in the funny moments, or perhaps especially in the funny moments, this film takes the aftermath of divorce seriously. Ten years on, all five family members are grappling with the fallout from the parents' split. When Jake and Jane's children find out that their parents have been seeing each other, these young adults, who seem so well-adjusted and self-assured, fall to pieces.
The movie makes it very clear that divorce is not something to get over, to pass on from, or to contemplate lightly. You must live with it, somehow, for the rest of your life. As the film argues, that's a very complicated proposition indeed.