REVIEW: ‘Let Them All Talk’ has nothing much to say

That’s two strikes now, Soderbergh. After a disappointing feature with “The Laundromat,” director Steven Soderbergh has returned with another lackluster flick.

“Let Them All Talk” stars Meryl Streep as a famous author named Alice. At the film’s outset, Alice is being asked by an agent from her publishing office, Karen (Gemma Chan), to write another book to in the immediate future.

Along with this situation taking place, Alice is also expected to receive a literary award in London. As she has a fear of flying, Alice opts to take the Queen Mary 2 across the ocean and invites her two friends Susan (Dianne Wiest) and Roberta (Candice Bergen), as well as her grandson Tyler (Lucas Hedges). Along the way, the many characters are able to connect and/or reconnect with each other.

“Let Them All Talk” is like a car that’s stuck in the snow, the tires are spinning but it’s not going anywhere. Soderbergh certainly lets the characters talk like the title suggests, but it doesn’t feel like things are being built to.

There’s no issue at all with dialogue heavy films, as Soderbergh and other filmmakers are able to make movies like that work. But that wasn’t the case, as many of the sequences appear to drag with uninspired conversations and not enough of it fits together into a compelling story.

There’s a bit of a plot with Roberta holding a grudge against Alice since she was the inspiration for the main character in the famous book, yet this feels underdeveloped. Meanwhile, the film also somewhat explores Tyler spending time with Karen, but this story thread doesn’t really go anywhere.

This narrative structure, featuring the characters interacting in various scenes, almost like a string of vignettes, could have still worked had the writing been more captivating. So much of it feels stale, though.

LetThemTalkBlog
Courtesy HBO Max.

When the movie is nothing but going from scene-to-scene with the characters conversing, a viewer wants to experience something from the dialogue. The whole film I simply wanted more from these interactions, whether it went in the direction of snappy and witty or tense and moody. Instead it was all dull.

At the very least, the acting is fine for the most part. As usual Streep elevates the material and is convincing. It’s not her most complex role, but the brings a grace and integrity to the character which really fits.

Stealing the show in most scenes, though, is Bergen who gives the most passionate performance in the film by far. Bergen believably brings her character’s frustrations and ambitions to the forefront.

A major disappointment, though, is Hedges. I’m not sure if it was Hedges or Soderbergh pushing the character to be this way, but regardless, Tyler comes off as way too awkward.

The character often has pauses in his sentences and just has a strange demeanor in his communication. This is never addressed as Tyler putting on a front or him having social anxiety, so it just comes across as strange.

“Let Them All Talk” is a disappointment as a whole. A few scenes stand out here and there, plus most of the cast is good, but for the most part this is a chore to sit through. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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