Movie Review: Let Them All Talk

Movie Review: Let Them All Talk

27th December 2020 Off By Ewan Gleadow

Copyright: HBO Max

Improvised craft walks a bold line of quality. Living or dying on how these performers react or blend with sudden changes in conversation, topic, or tone, Let Them All Talk is a somewhat spontaneous dramedy recounting the life of a famous author as she clashes and considers family, friends, and failings. To push these items to the side and take them for granted is a grave error, one Let Them All Talk highlights as a typically poor choice. A rather stark series of events follows, as we cater to characters swanning around an ocean liner, with no clear goal in sight.  

Let Them All Talk initially feels far more constricted and to the point than previous offerings Steven Soderbergh has helmed in the past few years. The Laundromat was horribly mediocre and exuded a weak energy that relied on crashing through the fourth wall to make up for its more than lacking central protagonists. Here, he does away with those consistently annoying interruptions in favour of a conventional style of filmmaking. That’s not to say that he does away with the attempted innovation, Soderbergh will always be proud of his latest gimmick or throw-in, seeing what works is all part of his ever-evolving craft. Craftsmanship which reeks of thunderous change, natural lighting and a barebones style of production make for engaging and intimate moments with these cast members. Possessing some clear talent throughout, symmetrical framing and longing shots of calming oceans, the tensions bubbling under the surface are inevitably about to blow. 

A couple of scenes here talk about the complexity of art, and whether entertainment is as valuable as esoteric craftsmanship. Some moments showcase the passion our characters may or may not possess, their inability to act upon it stopping them from achieving their true desires. Expecting this of Soderbergh may be too much to ask, but he steps up to the plate with a film that sets itself far apart from his usual styles. Moments do creep in from time to time, but they’re for a brief few moments rather than whole segments. His self-restraint and genuine strive to try something new are noticeable, he does a good job on the whole. There are times where, by way of music cue or camera cuts, that Let Them All Talk feels a tad crummy. But considering the relatively comfortable scope of the project, these moments can certainly be forgiven.  

For those balancing on the fence, Let Them All Talk may push you into the pro-Soderbergh camp. It has that charm to it, the nice camera angles, the engaging story and delightful leading performance from Meryl Streep. Are we responsible for our own, jaded thoughts? To hit the highs of success and to shed ourselves of the most important people around us, it’s something artists muse on often, or at least it would seem so considering how many films play with these themes. Loud, abrasive characters converse with one another aboard a cruise ship in what feels like a smattering nod to My Dinner with Andre. Too inconsistent at times, Let Them All Talk is nice enough, but the waning improvisation leaves a lot to be desired, even if Soderbergh is trying his best to bring forth some new ideas for his craft.