An adaptation of Nora Ephron's own novel, which was semi-autobiographical, Heartburn is a 1986 romantic dramedy about a relationship turning sour after the husband is suspected of having an affair.
When Rachel (Meryl Streep) meets political columnist Mark (Jack Nicholson) at a friend's wedding, they click instantly and it's not long before they begin a relationship. Soon after, they themselves get married and buy a house together, though the latter needs a lot of work. They eventually have a child but things quickly deteriorate when Rachel finds out that Mark has been cheating on her. Heartburn is every bit as sharp and witty as you'd expect a Nora Ephron-penned script to be, the film aptly showing the ups and downs of a relationship that, very much like the house Rachel and Mark purchase, needed a lot of work from the start.
Despite Jack Nicholson having to replace the original lead actor a day into the film's shoot, Mike Nichols' direction is seamless and the film never drops the ball. Meryl Streep is reliably excellent as Rachel, getting the bulk of the emotional work here and nailing it, while Jack Nicholson is unfortunately noy always convincing when it comes to the sweeter moments between Mark and Rachel but he certainly makes sure that the pie-in-the-face scene feels earned, though seeing more clashes between the two of them could have helped sell it even more. Not showing any of Mark's work life makes him a particularly frustrating character and this was a smart move as it helps put you in Rachel's suspicious and anxious frame of mind.
The supporting cast, which includes Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels and Stockard Channing, is solid and look out for a young Kevin Spacey in his first movie role.
It may not be as upbeat as the likes of When Harry Met Sally but Heartburn hits the right notes and it's worth seeing for the talent involved alone. From the writing to the performances, this is a well crafted film that deserves a second look, even if it could have been even punchier.