There's something fitting, but also something off, about Jane Fonda's character in "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding."
On the one hand, it makes sense for the woman infamously known as Hanoi Jane to play a child of the 1960s who still participates in protests and pot smoking. On the other, it seems strange to see the sexy star of "Barbarella" as a grandmother who spends more time on the romantic lives of others than her own.
That's not to say her character, Grace, doesn't have one. It's one of the sources of contention between Grace and her daughter, Diane, played by Catherine Keener.
|'Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding'|
|2.5 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen|
|Director: Bruce Beresford|
|Rated: R for drug content and some sexual references|
|Running time: 96 minutes|
Grace is a free spirit who somehow gave birth to an uptight lawyer. Diane hasn't seen her mother in 20 years, but shows up unannounced, teenaged children in tow, after her husband (Kyle MacLachlan) demands a divorce. The kids, young Jake (Nat Wolff) and college-bound Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), take to Woodstock immediately. But Diane has trouble even admitting to her mother the trauma that's led her home. Some mothers would be surprised, even irritated, by the appearance of their decades-estranged daughter. Not Grace: She immediately realizes a dream earlier in the week was a premonition. That's the kind of flower child she remains. When Zoe asks the name of one of the chickens that shares the home, Grace responds, "I prefer not to name animals. They're nature's children, not ours." The grandmother regularly starts sentences by name-dropping, as when "Jerry once said" or "When I met the Dalai Lama."
Diane wants to shield her children from what she sees as Grace's bad influence. "Keep your extracurricular activities under wrap," she warns her mother. "Oh, I don't sell pot anymore," Grace responds. But Diane was talking about the revolving door of lovers.
The three visitors all quickly discover a potential romance in Woodstock. The plot here is nothing less than predictable. Just in case we don't figure it out on our own, the characters exchange meaningful glances whenever one of them meets their love interest. Also expected is the way Grace helps Diane unwind.
Yet "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding" is still worth watching. That's because of the collection of talent veteran director Bruce Beresford has assembled. Keener is a great character actress, while Olsen is destined to become one. The men ooze charm. I think I could put up with Grandma for a summer if Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chace Crawford were around.