I have a hard time looking at Meg Ryan right now. There are a few shots in her latest film, In the Land of Women, where she looks recognizably like the same actress who starred in Sleepless in Seattle.
The rest of the time, however, her face looks like one of those African masks, and it’s more than just a distraction. It hurts her performance. As a suburban mom who has breast cancer, her character’s supposed to be keeping her fear bottled up while giving off the illusion that she has everything under control, but Ryan can’t pull this off because her face is now immobilized from surgery or Botox or whatever she’s had done. My worthless prediction: Soon actors won’t need this sort of work anymore, because technology now allows filmmakers to digitally erase wrinkles and blemishes from a person’s face. Hooray for that, but seeing the star of When Harry Met Sally … reduced to the expressiveness of a department-store mannequin makes me feel older and more depressed than the sight of her aging naturally would have.
The main character here is Carter Webb (Adam Brody), a struggling Hollywood writer who’s just been dumped by his famous-actress girlfriend (Elena Anaya). Needing a change of scenery, he heads to Michigan to look in on his hypochondriac grandmother (Olympia Dukakis). While he’s there, he gets entangled with the family across the street, where teenage daughter Lucy (Kristen Stewart) is barely on speaking terms with her mom Sarah (Ryan) despite the latter’s health scare. With Dad (Clark Gregg) unable to help much because he’s busy seeing his mistress, Carter steps uneasily into the void after Sarah effectively pushes Lucy at him.