By William Wolf


Jane Fonda as a grandmother? Well, time marches on. Fonda makes the most of a meaty colorful role as a granny who is free-spirit living in Woodstock, symbolic of an era of free spirits. In “Peace, Love & Misunderstanding,” directed by Bruce Beresford from a screenplay by Christina Mengert and Joseph Muszynski, Fonda plays Grace, who not only likes to smoke pot but sells it and in general lives a free-wheeling country life complete with monthly rituals with friends who bay at the moon. The whole set-up appears a bit precious in this day and age.

But Fonda makes a good show of her character, and the drama involves a visit from Catherine Keener as her estranged daughter Diane, who hasn’t talked with Grace for 20 years. Diane’s children, Nat Wolff as her teenage son Jake and Elizabeth Olsen as her grown daughter Zoe, have never even met their grandmother. It bids to be quite a get-together.

Keener is also excellent in her role. Diane is angry, resentful and with emotional needs that must be resolved. Making peace with her mother is essential and offers and opportunity to get her life better together. But given all the baggage, the situation is not an easy one. It is complicated when Diane meets a homespun guy named Jude, played engagingly by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

The life that Grace leads is amusing but not especially believable. Yet Fonda captures our attention with her acting that is more convincing than the part. Beresford achieves an ambience that is reminiscent of bygone hippie days. Although the film often fails in the credibility department, it has a sincerity that gains respect as the relationships unfold. And it is worth seeing for the performance by grandma Jane.


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