It’s Complicated: Is the Movie Based on the Story of an Actual Single Mother?

Image Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Studios

Directed by Nancy Meyers, ‘It’s Complicated’ is a romantic comedy movie with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin taking the lead. It follows Jane, a successful bakery owner and a single mother of three, who attends her son’s graduation ceremony. There, she runs into Jake, her ex-husband from whom she separated ten years ago. Even though he has since remarried, sparks unexpectedly fly between them, and the two begin a secret affair. However, their rekindled passions soon complicate their present situations, including Jane’s newfound romance with an architect named Adam.

Apart from a stellar cast, the 2009 comedy-drama movie realistically delves into sensitive topics like love triangles, finding love after divorce, the lifelong impact of parents’ separation on children, and the importance of honesty in relationships. Besides, the everyday relatability of the characters and the portrayal of love’s complexities begs the question— is ‘It’s Complicated’ influenced by true events or individuals?

It’s Complicated is Fictional

‘It’s Complicated’ is not based on a true story. In fact, the brilliant storyline and characters can be credited to director Nancy Meyers, who penned the script. Interestingly, though a vast majority consider the movie a romantic comedy, she has a differing opinion. In a December 2020 interview with Vulture, Meyers revealed, “‘It’s Complicated’ is not actually a romantic comedy. That was a complicated situation in her (Jane’s) life: kind of accidentally having an affair with her ex-husband. It doesn’t fall into the category of ‘Oh, I go to a lot of weddings and whatever.'”

Though the filmmaker may have created a fictional story, she seemingly drew from her observations and understanding of human relationships. Most of Meyers’ movies explore the various shades of romance, intimacy, and friendships through flawed protagonists, and the Meryl Streep-starter is no different. Jane and Jake are a former couple who end up falling for each other after a decade of divorce. Surprisingly, this is not unheard of in reality, as a research report by Psychology Today suggests that between 10-15% of couples reconcile after separating.

Furthermore, studies indicate that up to 60% of people going through a divorce process may be open to reconciliation at some point. One of the possible reasons separated couples get back together is because, despite what went wrong in their marriage, they still have deep feelings or attraction for each other. This is precisely what happens between the protagonists in the Nancy Meyers directorial, who reminisce about the happy times in their former marriage and realize their unresolved feelings for each other.

On the other hand, Jane and Jake’s reunion is quite unsettling for their grown-up kids at first, which, again, isn’t uncommon in reality. Divorce often brings a significant change in people’s lives, and children often get deeply affected by their parents’ separation or their having a new partner. This can have a pretty long-term impact on them, as seen in the case of Jake and Jane’s adult kids in the movie. Lastly, the love triangle that forms when Jane falls for Adam is also not a far-fetched concept.

It is quite possible for a person to fall for two people simultaneously, a trope explored in several movies and TV shows over the years. As one can see, ‘It’s Complicated’ is a product of director Nancy Meyers’ creative mind, yet the narratives reflect real life and are inspired by her observations of people around her. Through the imperfect yet endearing characters and mildly humorous situations, she presents a nuanced study of adult relationships that is entertaining and impactful. Nevertheless, despite its lifelike qualities, the fact remains that the movie is a work of fiction.

Read More: Best Rom-Coms