Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is a story of three generations coming together because of an impending divorce with a mother of two teens who hasn’t seen her mother in more than a decade. Jane Fonda plays Grace, the pot-smoking, animal loving, stuck-in-the-hippies era grandmother, and Catherine Kenner plays Dianne, who has recently learned that her hubby wants a divorce. To make herself feel better, she decides to visit Grace, who lives in Woodstock, New York, and who very much believes that she is a hippy living back in the 60’s. Elizabeth Olsen plays the college-age daughter named Zoe, and Nat Wolff plays the brother Jake.
Fonda is fantastic as Grace, as she tries to convince her daughter and two grandchildren that they need to just cool out and explore new things in life, mostly the opposite sex. Zoe finds a guy whom she likes, but he’s a butcher, which goes against her vegan loving ways. Jake is a nerd who needs much coaching from Grace when it comes to girls. But he does have an ace in the hole, and that’s his love of film, as he takes his video camera with him everywhere. This way he is able to tape everything.
There are parties and concerts and just smoke-ins in the middle of nowhere, where Grace holds court with everyone, spinning yarns about how she knew Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, etc. However when the two teens and Grace finally sit down to smoke a little reefer, there is a meeting of the minds, and they discover that she isn’t as much a pain in the butt as their mother has made her out to be.
Grace is everything that Diane isn’t; Dianne is a straight-laced attorney who lives her life by the books, and she is just amazed that her mother still smokes weed. Grace, however, has had the time of her life, with no regrets. She seems to have filled her life with old and new friends, and everyone respects her. I liked this movie, because Fonda seemed to be in her element; as if I would think that she would be a flower child who never really grew up but one who also never really got over the fact that her daughter had sort of shunned her. But in the end, everything came together for Grace, Dianne and her children. I guess they all gained a new appreciation for one another.
Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies, Driving Miss Daisy) creates a touching and poignant comedy that proves once and for all that having an old soul doesn’t mean you can’t be a free spirit.
Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is available October 2 on DVD and Blu-ray. Visit www.ifcfilms.com.