Grand Dames At Sea (Film Thoughts: Let Them All Talk)

Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, and Dianne Wiest all in one movie? Heaven. Put them all in a cruise ship? Ideal (and in these pandemic times, even more so) Gemma Chan is just cherry on top of the icing in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Let Them All Talk.’ I am sure that this film will polarize people, but count me among those who loved this film. ‘Dames At Sea’ was a 1969 musical, this film can be aptly called Grand Dames at Sea, and we should all jump aboard.

Getting on a ship changes someone’s psyche. You are ‘stuck’ there with seemingly no escape, and there’s something magical that happens there. But at the same time, the situation kind of toys with your head. In every cruise that I have taken (about a dozen or so by now) I have learned something new about myself.

But excuse me, the characters here are in a Crossing. Streep plays Alice, an author who is to receive a prestigious award in London, but she cannot fly so she takes the Queen Mary 2, and tags along her friends Roberta (Bergen) and Susan (Wiest) She also takes her nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges) with her. Once in the boat, we find out her literary agent Karen (Gemma Chan) is also on board to spy on Alice to make sure she is working on her manuscript. Much if what happens is supposedly half-improvised by the actors themselves, and it doesn’t show, to be honest. While the format is loose, the dialogue is pretty tight, and you can see the actors in their A game. Streep is calculatingly precise as Alice, and this is a classic Streep performance, tics and all (You will either love it or hate it) but the standout for me is Bergen, who plays a woman boiling underneath from a friend’s betrayal. I liked Hedges here, but I felt I didn’t really know his character, and was just used to move the plot forward (same with Chan’s character) I ultimately got swept in the characters and how they interacted with each other, and seeing fine actresses work flawlessly. Soderbergh gave them room to breathe and show their flares, and we are all the lucky to be in their presence.

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