Diane Ladd is star, director, and screenwriter of MRS. MUNCK, a nostalgia binge about an embittered woman victimized by her memories and nearly driven mad by her inability to bend the past to her own will.
At the funeral of her ineffectual but loving spouse, Harley (Jim Walton), Rose Munck (Diane Ladd) explains in a voice-over how she's going to bear widowhood by becoming the caregiver to unloved ex-business magnate Patrick Leary (Bruce Dern). Nursing deep resentment toward this grumpy old man, the
redoubtable Mrs. Munck puts him on a health regimen that borders on cruel and unusual punishment.
It seems that, years before, married community pillar Patrick seduced and abandoned country bumpkin Rose Munck (Kelly Preston). After young Rose refused an abortion and bore his child, Patrick threatened to sue for custody of the girl. During an altercation between the warring couple, their
daughter was accidentally killed by a falling steam iron.
Now in control of the man who ruined her life, Mrs. Munck refuses to let ailing Patrick indulge in self-pity, and bamboozles his relatives, who don't want to reclaim the old coot anyway. Despite the remorseful strides Patrick makes, simmering anger over their shared tragedy makes rapprochement
impossible. Having restored the decrepit ingrate to a dignified, vital state, a saddened but relieved Mrs. Munck realizes their karmic bond is broken, and she can let go of Patrick and her past.
Superbly performed by Ladd and ex-husband Dern, MRS. MUNCK is a delicate character study marred by Ladd's frivolous meddling with the story's tone. Jumping all over the genre map, MRS. MUNCK is alternately a black comedy, nostalgia workout, MISERY-type horror-thriller, and twisted love story. Nor
does the wide range of moods seem intentional; this actors' duel doesn't have its feet planted on terra firma. Fortunately, as Mrs. Munck bakes up a lifetime of gripes into a humble pie for her captive ward, the two stars have ample opportunity to scintillate.
Ladd opts for a different perspective on the theme of revenge. There are, after all, positive side effects to the enforced rejuvenation of her old flame. Ladd tries to embroider her film with filigrees of irony, but she is constantly thwarted by flashbacks which needlessly throw ice water on the
piping-hot exchanges between the aged Mrs. Munck and her decaying beau.
Ladd stretches her considerable talents a wee bit thin here. Flexing more directorial muscle than screenwriting savvy, she elicits smooth performances in the service of a fatally flawed concept.(Extreme profanity, nudity, violence, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Diane Ladd is star, director, and screenwriter of MRS. MUNCK, a nostalgia binge about an embittered woman victimized by her memories and nearly driven mad by her inability to bend the past to her own will. At the funeral of her ineffectual but loving spou… (more)