Soderbergh’s next opus deals with literature and decisions.
“The Laundromat, the previous collaboration of Meryl Streep and director Steven Soderbergh, was a major disappointment, considering the fact that they’re two of the finest talents in the entertainment world. However, their next feature “Let Them All Talk” is a major improvement. You also have Lucas Hedges, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, and Gemma Chen (who you may remember from “Crazy Rich Asians”) in supporting roles.
It’s now on HBO Max, and I’m glad it found a spot on it, because it delivers on the stars and their characters’ ambitions.
Less equipment was used on this boat, but Soderbergh was able to do the cinematography and editing, both of which he specializes in his films. He almost always makes his characters and their scenes look electrifying and stylish. I love how Streep swims in the pool, and comes out of the water. He photographs those scenes with balanced lighting.
We meet acclaimed author Alice Hughes (Streep), who must take the Queen Mary 2 ship from New York to London to receive a prestigious award. For some reason, she can’t fly, that’s why she’s taking the boat. She’s working on a new manuscript, which her agent Karen (Chen) desperately needs info on-is it finished or is it a sequel to one of her masterworks?
Alice invites a few guests on the trip-her nephew Tyler (Hedges), and her old college girls-Roberta (Bergen) and Susan (Wiest).
Alice has doubts about her next work, while Tyler and Karen connect, Roberta complains about her life, and Susan rolls with the moments in front of her. I can tell Roberta is estranged from Karen because whenever she invites her for drinks, she tells her she has other plans. That and she tells Susan that Alice might be exploiting her life for her new book.
Another celebrity author on this ship is Kelvin Krantz (Dan Algrant), who seems like a nice guy if he’s able to sign autographs and appreciate Alice’s work. And he is a nice guy.
I may not understand everything going on in the movie, but “Let Them All Talk” still examines an author’s life and decisions with the kind of spike that Soderbergh provides. She made choices that ruined her friendship with her old friends, and she’s becomes cynical about whether or not she can pull off her next opus. Streep is given the kind of depth that I looked for and missed in “The Laundromat.” And the writing was done very well by Deborah Eisenberg.
Among the supporting cast Bergen delivers more emphasis than Wiest, while Hedges and Chen have chemistry. All these stars are able to improvise the script on the boat, as it was actually filmed on it, and they work with Streep and Soderbergh with respective ambitions. The third act of the movie provides a shocking pay-off that you would never see coming. I won’t spoil anything, but you think something is happening in one part, but when you get near the end, you realize it’s not what you think.
Take this cruise trip, and see for yourselves.
Streaming on HBO Max