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Streep keeps it so simple

Most romantic comedies follow a basic plot of boy meets girl, but the title of Nancy Meyers' latest film suggests there's a lot more to relationships than that.

It's Complicated stars Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as a middle-aged couple who start an affair -- 10 years after they got divorced.

Streep plays mother-of-three Jane who owns a bakery and restaurant in California and is on good terms with her ex-husband Jake (Baldwin).

The old flame begins to flicker again when they stay at the same New York hotel for their son's graduation and end up reminiscing about their 19-year marriage over a drink or three.

With attorney Jake now married to a younger woman, Agness (Lake Bell), Jane soon becomes the "other woman".

Things get even more complicated when it turns out that the architect helping to build Jane's dream kitchen, played by Steve Martin, is ever so slightly in love with her.

The film has garnered a whole slew of Golden Globe nominations, ahead of this year's awards season, including Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Streep, Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy, and Best Screenplay for writer/director Nancy Meyers.

Mature

Baldwin believes Meyers, who brought us Baby Boom, Father Of The Bride and What Women Want, has created something more mature than the standard romcom.

"To me Nancy's movies are adult romantic comedies -- they're a little more honest than young people's romantic comedies," he says.

"Romantic comedies for young people seem to be a little crazy to me -- everybody is doing incredibly stupid things to try and get a laugh. And it is funny, but when you're appealing to an older audience, you need to be a little more dramatic, because the stakes are higher.

"But at the same time you have to keep it light; it is a weird balance to strike, and Nancy is so good at that kind of movie."

Meryl Streep has recently carved herself a comedy niche, with memorable roles in Mamma Mia! and last summer's Julie And Julia, for which she's also been nominated at the Golden Globes, meaning that she's competing against herself in the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category.

She was the actress Meyers had in mind to play Jane -- and she instantly loved the script and the screenwriter's sensitivity to such a universal subject.

"[She has] tapped into something deep about families who've encountered divorce . . . or anybody who has been abandoned by someone they love," says Streep.

But it was the draw of her leading men that proved irresistible. "They're just so wildly and inventively funny, I love them both," she says of Martin and Baldwin.

"They're not just willing to be funny, they're willing to reveal themselves, which is not always that easy."

Off-screen, the lead actors have had very different experiences of love and relationships. While Baldwin (51) was locked in a seven-year custody battle with his ex-wife Kim Basinger following their divorce in 2002, Streep, who turned 60 this summer, has been married to her husband for more than 30 years.

But she was still able to empathise with Jane -- who has three grown-up children, compared to Streep's four -- and her unconventional love life.

"Starting a new relationship as an older person, I think you are probably just more aware of the red flags that are there, because you've been in trouble before. You are a little bit more cautious and sensitive, and you pick up signals more easily."

Custody

While 15-times Oscar nominee and double-winner Streep may well see a 16th nomination this year, her co-stars Martin and Baldwin will be teaming up to host the glamorous awards show in March.

"I'm grateful I'm doing it with Steve, he's done it twice before," says Baldwin. "But even if I wasn't doing it, I'm glad he's doing it, because it needs to be funny."

Last year Baldwin published a book called A Promise To Ourselves, which charted his battle for joint custody of his daughter and critiqued the US family law system.

"Writing is definitely something I might want to do more of and just take a break from [acting], indefinitely maybe."

Streep, on the other hand, shows no signs of wanting to retire. There are rumours of several films afoot.

The key to her longevity? Not taking life too seriously. "If you get to a certain age and you aren't laughing at yourself, you haven't recognised all the things that are funny," she says.

It's Complicated is released in cinemas on Friday


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