Let Them All Talk: Soderbergh’s Low-Budget, Improvisational Indie, Starring Meryl Streep

Soderbergh directed Let Them All Talk, a low-budget, experimental serio-comedy from a screenplay by Deborah Eisenberg.

 

Grade: B- (**1/2 out of *****)

 

Let Them All Talk Still
Courtesy of HBO MAX

Lucas Hedges and Meryl Streep in ‘Let Them All Talk’

 

The main reason to see this modest, ultra-verbose film is its all-star cast, featuring Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, Candice Bergen, and Gemma Chan.

Much of the dialogue was improvised by the cast, and it feels that way.

Soderbergh, a bold craftsman, shot the film using natural light and little equipment aboard the Queen Mary 2.

Let Them All Talk was released on HBO Max on December 10, 2020.

Narrative Premise:

Alice Hughes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author working on her latest manuscript. Her publisher hopes will be a sequel to her best-known work, You Always/You Never. Alice is receiving a literary award in the UK but is unable to fly due to her health, leading her agent Karen to suggest she make the transatlantic trip on the Queen Mary 2.

Alice invites her nephew Tyler to assist her while on the voyage, and her university friends Roberta and Susan, with whom she has lost touch. Alice and Roberta have a difficult relationship stemming from Roberta’s belief that Alice used details about her in You Always/You Never, which Roberta feels derailed her life. Unbeknownst to Alice, Karen joins them on the ship, hoping to learn details about Alice’s new book.

Once on the ship, Karen strikes up a friendship with Tyler, using him to gain information from Alice. Alice tells Tyler that the book is about “trying to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time,” possibly implying that it will be a sequel to a previous work. She spends the majority of her time writing, only taking breaks to eat and swim.

Mildly enjoyable, but ultimately inconsequential, Let Them All Talk feels like a quicky, made in order to indulge the actresses and the director, who’s known for his use of experimental methods.