Less film than performance showcase, to no one's surprise I'm sure. Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson are the less-than-perfect couple in Mike Nichols's adaptation of Nora Ephron's novel based on the breakdown of her own marriage. Odd couple is more like it, actually, since you never understand what Streep and Nicholson could possibly see in each other: they're as temperamentally ill-matched as chardonnay and Molson ale. Nichols's direction is strictly low voltage, and following Meryl on her dull domestic rounds, from supermarket to home to hairdresser etc, puts you in mind of Jeanne Dielman on the Quai de Commerce, only Nichols invites our complicity rather than ironic remove. Streep's all wrong for the role she's asked to play (less a problem of performance than of casting), but Nicholson plumbs some depths with his: his aging face keeps gathering interest, like a sinister demon mask (the early Mephisto reference here doesn't seem inadvertent). With Richard Masur (good as always, anonymous as always), Stockard Channing, and Maureen Stapleton.
By Pat Graham