House Beautiful: The Movie

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Ball

See Jane scramble. She's a mother, girlfriend, mistress, gal pal, owner of a thriving patisserie, and therapy patient. Not that you'd pick up oversubscribed vibes if you swung by for a glass of chardonnay. Her octopus-armed life unfolds in a universe of serenity, where barely a square inch of floor is ungraced with sisal, nary a window untreated with glazed linen. In the comfort of her rambling, terra-cotta-shingled ranch, Jane bathes in a claw-foot tub and dines atop gray-veined Carrara marble. You root for her to find love. You hanker for one of her homemade chocolate croissants. But mostly, you wish you were holding a gift-registry scanner.

If only you could get inside. Jane actually lives in the fictional space of It's Complicated, the film starring Meryl Streep and directed by Nancy Meyers. Meyers's movies (Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday) have earned her a cult following among the design-porn set; the Hamptons beach house from 2003's Something's Gotta Give was a sensation--it even inspired a headboard collection for Williams-Sonoma Home. But It's Complicated sashays into theaters at a very different time. Before Home Depot closed its tony Expo Design Center, before "HGTV" became a slur for compulsive nest-feathering, Meyers's Hamptons set was termed "aspirational." Now a quarter of mortgaged American homes are underwater, and movie montages about cashmere sheets are an irksome reminder of how we can't afford them. Gone are the glossy titans House & Garden, Vogue Living, Domino, Metropolitan Home, Southern Accents, and Cottage Living, all boarded up alongside the housing market. …