The M Word, an Unstructured Gabfest Makes a Mess of Midlife Upheaval


A pluralistic personal account of menopause seems like a fine idea for a movie, but was Henry Jaglom the right person to make it?

In The M Word, Jaglom smartly sees a parallel between midlife hormone upheaval and sudden workplace superfluousness, but his unstructured-gabfest approach makes rather a mess of it.

Somewhere in L.A., a scrappy little TV station is losing money and about to get downsized into oblivion. Maybe there’s still hope for Moxie, a charismatic kids’ show actress (Tanna Frederick) who beguiles the newly arrived emissary (Michael Imperioli) from the station’s corporate parent. To her he offers not just the chance to trade up from a schlemiel boyfriend (Corey Feldman) but also an official green light on a pet-project menopause documentary. Then the layoffs start, and Moxie’s conscience calls her to disruptive action.

For years, Jaglom has practiced frugal independent filmmaking as a chancy mode of psychotherapy, often prodding brave and vulnerable ladies to open up to him on camera. Here, his sympathy for the common woman seems sincere but also ingratiating and distractible.

The disservice extends beyond organization into production values: Listlessly photographed and blunderingly edited, The M Word looks downright chintzy. Without meaning much, it merely comes and goes — a lukewarm flash.