Let Them All Talk Movie shows A celebrated author takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds. Her nephew comes along to wrangle the ladies and finds himself involved with a young literary agent.
Steven Soderbergh’s “Let Them All Talk,” premiering on HBO Max this week, is a deceptively light film about heavy things. So many of his movies are. As one of the best American filmmakers, his most escapist fare hides deeper meaning and his unimpeachable craft shapes what may seem to be ordinary, mundane lives into something fascinating and deep.
His latest was filmed over two weeks on the Queen Mary 2 and reportedly comprised of almost entirely improvisational scenes (although one can hear the voice of credited writer Deborah Eisenberg in enough of the exchanges that some of those reports may be slightly exaggerated).
It’s the rare story of older women that doesn’t feel manipulative or glib, depicting three former friends coming to terms with how the success of one of them changed everything forever. Meanwhile, it counters that story through the eyes of a young man for whom his aunt has always been larger than life, and how other people who orbit around her, including an agent, are subject to her moods and whims.
Alice Hughes (Meryl Streep) is a world-famous, Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has been asked to go to England to accept an award. She can’t fly, and so she convinces them to pay for her to take the Queen Mary across the ocean, and to spring for three people to accompany her—old friends Roberta (Candice Bergen) & Susan (Dianne Wiest) and her supportive nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges). It’s been years since the biggest book of Hughes’ life, You Always/You Never, one that turned her into a household name and one that her new agent Karen (Gemma Chan) is hoping she’s finally writing a sequel to on the ship.
Without Alice’s knowledge, Karen actually hitches a ride, drawing close to Tyler in the hope that he can find out something about what the reclusive author is working on. Of course, Alice will eventually discover Karen is on board, but this is not the comedy of errors it could have been with its set-up.