Let Them All Talk is an odd but interesting film with A-list actors including Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, and Dianne Wiest. Director Steven Soderbergh put the three of them on the Queen Mary 2 and let them improvise most of the dialog. It’s streaming on HBO Max.
In places the stumbling, unrehearsed nature of Let Them All Talk is obvious. At other times you can see that writer Deborah Eisenberg gave the actors the help they needed to get where they were going.
Alice (Meryl Streep) was a Pulitzer Prize winning author who had become ethereal and hard to pin down. She needed to go to England to accept another prize, but couldn’t fly. We don’t talk about why she can’t fly, she just can’t.
Karen (Gemma Chan), from Alice’s publishing house, was desperate to find out what Alice was doing. Karen arranged for Alice to bring guests on the trip. Then Karen sneaked on the Queen Mary 2 in hopes of learning if the manuscript was going to be on time.
Alice brought old college friends Susan (Dianne Wiest) and Roberta (Candice Bergen). She brought her beloved nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges). And there was a mysterious fellow who always seemed to be around (John Douglas Thompson). His identity is saved for the big twist at the end.
Karen recruited Tyler to help her understand what Alice was writing. He, naturally, fell in love with her.
Slowly we realize that Roberta is mad as hell at Alice. The book that made Alice famous was, at least in Roberta’s eyes, based on Roberta’s life. And it ruined her life. Now she sells underwear in a department store and is desperate for money.
While Streep and Wiest were floating about finding their way through the improvisation and uncertainty of what they were doing, Bergen was laser-focused. She was dynamite on a short fuse. She was brilliant.
There was a subplot involving another author who was on board the ship, Kevin Kranz (Daniel Algrant). He wrote thrillers and was beneath Alice’s standards. Susan and Roberta loved his books and had read them all. Ha!
I really liked the ending. A perfect twist. I liked the scenes where people were chatting with animation but we didn’t hear what they said. I liked the cheery setting on the beautiful ship. I’ll never miss anything these actors want to do together.
This film isn’t great, but it was worth watching.
Have a look at the trailer.
Are you going to take a look at Let Them All Talk?