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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

It's Complicated

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The aptly titled "It's Complicated" (Universal/Relativity) features an ethically tangled story demanding careful evaluation by mature viewers. Indeed, to quote the perplexed monarch of Siam in Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical "The King and I," from a Catholic moral perspective, "Is a puzzlement."

That's because writer-director Nancy Meyers' aesthetically smooth-running romantic comedy concerns a couple—successful bakery-restaurant owner Jane (Meryl Streep) and legal eagle Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin)—who, a decade after their divorce, reconnect and have an affair. This, despite his second marriage to much younger "trophy wife" Agness (Lake Bell) and Jane's budding romance with Adam (Steve Martin), an architect working on an addition to her home.

Assuming their union was valid to begin with, however, the pair's seeming adultery—presented as a daring feminist adventure for Streep's well-delineated character—would, in fact, be marital lovemaking. Yet the breach of trust with the new "spouse" can hardly be excused, and adds a further twist to the spiritually convoluted proceedings.

In its more serious moments, Meyer's script does highlight the lasting emotional toll exacted on children when their parents split. Thus the three grown kids of the original match—Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald), Gabby (Zoe Kazan) and Luke (Hunter Parrish)—straightforwardly acknowledge that they're still hurt by the long-ago breakup.

And, in a touching scene, Jake and Agness' usually bratty young son Pedro (Emjay Anthony) shows his instinctive affection for his father, while being tucked into bed, by sleepily pressing Jake's hand to his heart, a gesture made all the more poignant by the audience's knowledge that, by now, Jake is seriously considering deserting Agness and Pedro to return to Jane.

Like the chats Jane enjoys with her quartet of best friends, who also serve as her misguided romantic advisers, the conclusion toward which the plot moves accords more with freewheeling contemporary mores than with the perennial wisdom of church doctrine.

The film contains complex moral issues; skewed values; implied sexual activity, some of it adulterous; off-screen masturbation; fleeting rear nudity; considerable drug use; some sexual references and humor; and a half-dozen crude or crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

******
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.





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Athanasius: Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. 
<p>Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism. </p><p>When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul. </p><p>After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters. </p><p>Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism. </p><p>Among his ascetical writings, his<i> Life of St. Anthony</i> (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.</p> American Catholic Blog Suffering is redemptive in part because it definitively reveals to man that he is not in fact God, and it thereby opens the human person to receive the divine.

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