Let Them All Talk Launches On HBO Max

Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges, Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen. Photograph by HBO Max.

Let Them All Talk may be one of the most unique comedies to date with the film mostly taking place during an actual cruise crossing in 2019.

Friendship between woman is a tale as old as time.  What Deborah Eisenberg’s screenplay seeks to explore is how college friendships between women evolve over time.  The film focuses on three women in particular: Alice (Meryl Streep), Roberta (Candice Bergen), and Susan (Dianne Wiest)

Best-selling author Alice has never been married nor had any children.  I know what you’re thinking but please don’t judge her.  Upon learning that she’s about to be presented with a literary award in England, Alice delivers the news to her new agent, Karen (Gemma Chan), that she does not fly.  Thus, Karen makes the suggestion about crossing the Atlantic on a cruise line but it comes with a catch.  The only way that Alice can ride the boat for free is by giving a lecture.  There is no other way around this if Alice doesn’t want to fly.  But then Alice makes her own demands for taking a boat.  Obviously, this enables her to have more writing time but this is beside the point.  She wants to bring along two college friends, Roberta and Susan, and nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges).

If it were just Alice, we wouldn’t really have such a compelling film because where is the drama in finding the words on a page?  Thankfully, Alice has her own stipulations.  The comedy starts as soon as everybody gets on board.  Why would Alice even invite Roberta if they have not spoken in thirty years?!?  It just makes zero sense!  Even with knowing their past, it is a bad idea from the very beginning.  This puts Susan in such a dicey situation. Alice probably wasn’t expecting Tyler to be attracted to Karen, either.  The only reason for Karen to be on the boat is to get scoop on Alice’s new book.  I mean, you’re not going to take a cruise over sea and not use the time to write, right?!?  We just have to wait and see what happens.

One of the things I did notice with the film taking place on a boat is how stable the camera is.  You wouldn’t notice if it weren’t for establishing shots or views of the sea.  The camera movement feels rather stable in hallway scenes or wherever.  It doesn’t even feel shaky!  That being said, I love how they are able to film around the Queen Mary 2 passengers.

In terms of story, Deborah Eisenberg writes a 50-page scriptment so all the actors have room to play with their characters.  They’re able to grow them in ways that you can’t really do in tighter screenplays.  The opportunities for improv is certainly one thing to enjoy about the film.  Because Eisenberg doesn’t write Karen with any ethnicity in mind, it allows for diversity in casting.

Let Them All Talk is one of those films that was made for the streamer.  With a cast of this nature, you’d have thought it would be made for the big screen.  At least, it certainly feels this way!  A few years ago, we thought Steven Soderbergh was making his farewell to cinema.  Thankfully, film lovers are so lucky that his retirement announcement has proven to be premature.

DIRECTOR:  Steven Soderbergh
SCREENWRITER:  Deborah Eisenberg
CAST:  Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, with Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan

HBO Max launches Let Them All Talk on December 10, 2020. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.