Subtle drama is fresh and entertaining

You have to hand it to filmmaker Steven Soderbergh; he’s got the low-fi video production process down to a sweet science. “Let Them All Talk” was shot, edited, and directed by the Oscar-winning auteur aboard Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2.

The film is a delightful and insightful examination of an author whose insular method has driven everyone in her life away. But the prospect of a second chance offers late in life hope.

In the loose narrative, reportedly taken from an outline/screenplay written by award-winning short story author Deborah Eisenberg, Meryl Streep plays Alice, a famous novelist. While her books are deeply respected for their literary value, the commercial viability has waned over the years. Her agent, Karen (Gemma Chan), is hopeful that Alice will write a sequel to one of her more popular tomes, and she convinces Alice to travel to England and accept a prestigious prize. The idea is that this award may reinvigorate the writer and her career.

Alice, who cannot fly due to health reasons, agrees to board the Queen Mary 2 and go by sea. Because of her star-power, she’s able to bring along guests. And to reunite with distant college friends, Alice invites Susan (Dianne Wiest) and Roberta (Candice Bergen). Old wounds resurface as the ocean voyage progresses.

Beyond the humble nature of the production (Streep remarked that Soderbergh held the camera in a wheelchair and followed the actors around the boat), the magic of this film is watching three terrific actresses in action. And the differing styles of the performers make an interesting contrast.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald: