Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

Heartburn (1986)

by  |  August 25th, 2011  |  Drama

Sadly for decades now the concepts of the American Family has been changing… What do I mean by this, well simply put, What I mean by this is that divorce rates have been rather high…

Now that is not to say that I think people shouldn’t get married, I personally think that if you get the opportunity to find the right person that you should absolutely get married! Marriage is one of the best things in the world (outside of maybe having a kid) or being married to the love of your life and starting a family with him or her…

Now you might well be wondering why I am talking about this type of thing in a movie recommendation, well that is kind of the topic for the movie, Heartburn (1986):

Written by: Nora Ephron (Cookie) and Directed by: Mike Nichols (Biloxi Blues). Starring: Jack Nicholson (Chinatown), Meryl Streep (Silkwood), Jeff Daniels (2 Days In The Valley), Richard Masur (My Girl), Stockard Channing (The West Wing), Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone) and Milos Forman (Amadeus).

Heartburn tells the story of Rachel Samstat (Streep).  Now at the start of the movie Rachel is a single women who has no interest in getting married to anyone… That is until she meets a columnist for a major Washington D.C. newspaper by the name of Mark Forman (Nicholson)…

Now Mark is a major playboy who is very well known for playing the field, he has been known to leave a date in the middle of it, as well as doing other shallow things (basically the type of guy that it seems like women would date but not end up marryingor  so the saying goes…)

With that said they end up meeting at a wedding for a mutual friend in Rachel’s hometown of New York, and it is like a fairytale romance for the both of them… So much so that they end up quickly both getting married to each other…

Once the wedding ceremony begins though is when the problems seem to begin, you see Rachel is having cold feet, and various people try to comfort her, at first it is Mark’s friends, Julie (Channing) and Arthur (Masur) that come in to try and convince Rachel to come out of the room.  When that doesn’t work, various other people show up to try and comfort her to try and get her out in to the ceremony, including her therapist, ‘Vera’ (played by: Maureen Stapleton), her father, ‘Harry’ (played by: Steven Hill), and even her best friend ‘Richard’ (Daniels), but it isn’t until Mark comes in that she agrees to come out and get married…

Rachel (Streep) and her father (Hill) who is trying to coax her to get married.

And now the honeymoon romance continues… You see after they get married, Rachel ends up moving to Washington to be with Mark.  They end up buying an old burned out house in a Washington suburb, which when they show to Arthur and Julie, you can tell that neither Julie or Arthur are very happy with the house itself (and in retrospect was probably not the wisest choice for a home…)

You see the contractor is what you might call a stereotypical shyster, (so much so that the guy doesn’t even put an entrance to the kitchen from inside the house.) Well needless to say this causes some friction between both Mark and Rachel, and end up fighting about it when they go to a party that is being held by some one that both Mark and Rachel seem to know (It is never mentioned who it is.)

But they still make it go right when they get home and Mark discovers that Rachel is pregnant with their daughter, Anne (Played by: Mamie Gummer).

The happy family.

Now life seems to be going really well for the Forman/Samstat home in that they are living a happy life, hanging out with their various friends, Mark is still writing his column, and Rachel is writing some sort of food column for an unknown paper (everything seems to be going very well for the happy couple…)

That is until one day when while talking to Betty (who is a bit of a gossip.) Betty tells her that a mutual acquaintance is having an affair with some one, which gets Rachel’s mind going, but it isn’t until Rachel is getting her hair done and listening to her stylist go on about her cheating boyfriend that Rachel begins to get nervous that the acquaintance that she and Betty share maybe having an affair with Mark!

So Rachel runs home only to discover that Mark is having an affair with this women and doesn’t even try to hide it!

So Rachel being pregnant decides to pack up their kid and head off to New York to make a fresh start, but with Mark still in love with her and wanting her back.  Rachel will have to decide rather to make a fresh start as a single mother or try to regain the happiness that she once had with Mark in Washington D.C.

Mark's attempt to win back Rachel.

Now what I like about this movie and what I truly do think makes this an awesome b movie is a couple of things:

1. This movie, you could almost say is a good cautionary tale for women when choosing the men that they want to spend the rest of their lives with.

2. Also this movie is an interesting autobiographical look at the marriage of Nora Ephron to Carl Bernstein (who was one of the journalists that uncovered the Watergate scandal.)

3. Another thing that I thought that I would mention here is the fact that Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep would end up working together again on at least one other movie, Julie And Julia (2009), and Jack Nicholson and Milos Foreman had worked together on One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) together.

4. The last thing that I thought that was kind of cool was to look out for a younger Kevin Spacey (Se7en) in his earliest movie role!

Kevin Spacey as Thief in his first movie, 'Heartburn.'

With that said folks, if you are in the mood for a fun movie, that will ultimately make you feel good.  Then I highly recommend watching this one, it is an interesting flick to watch.


Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.

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