Peace, Love and Misunderstanding

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding

(MA) Anchor Bay DVD/BD

When New York lawyer Diane is taken by surprise by her husband’s request for a divorce, her response is to take her two children to visit her mother, with whom she has not spoken for 20 years.

It sounds like the set up for a tense family drama until you add the details that the mother, Grace, is an ageing hippie living in Woodstock and their estrangement was as a result of her being arrested for selling marijuana at her daughter’s wedding.

Thematically, Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is a film about parents and children, and the need of children to accept the humanity of their parents.

However, Australian director Bruce Beresford chooses not to delve too deeply into these themes, seemingly happy to let the film simply be a charming light comedy.

The film relies heavily on stereotypical characters and formulaic situations. The fact that Diane, her daughter Zoe and son Jake all manage to meet their respective love interests within 24 hours of arriving in Woodstock is nothing if not convenient.

It’s this sort of thing that leaves you always feeling like you know exactly where the film is going.

Jane Fonda, who returned to acting in the mid-2000s after a 15-year retirement, here plays the hippie activist Grace, obviously a caricature of her own public persona. It’s a character we’ve seen many times before in films, as is Keener’s uptight lawyer; but the fact that it is Jane Fonda playing the role adds a great deal to the character by association.

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is very formulaic and not particularly deep but it isn’t trying to be anything more than it is. It is a charming picture with some likeable characters.

Good harmless fun.

Duncan McLean

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