Girl Power at the Peace Love & Misunderstanding Premiere


In a room with feminist icon Gloria Steinem and unimpeachable heartthrob Chace Crawford, where’s a young, empowered woman to turn? Owing largely efforts of many women in attendance, luckily most of us need not choose between intellect and aesthetic. Last night Forevermark and The Wall Street Journal presented the premiere of IFC Films’ Peace Love & Misunderstanding to benefit The Women’s Media Center, co-founded by the film’s star Jane Fonda. In a kind of inverted generational pattern, Jane Fonda plays the free-spirited mother to uptight, decidedly less liberated Manhattan lawyer Catherine Keener, who takes her children Jake (Nat Wolf) and Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) to childhood home in hippie haven Woodstock after her husband (Kyle MacLachlan) asks for a divorce. The typical fish-out-of-water narrative takes several directions, as each woman confronts challenges to her beliefs, expectations, and often her sobriety (free-spirited as she is, Fonda’s character Grace is an adept entrepreneur with an impressive “grow room.”) 

Having briefly expatriated to France during the ’70s, returning to the Summer of Love was a leap for the Barbarella star. “I never wore tie-dye in my life,” said Fonda, who was coached in hippie etiquette by co-star Catherine Keener. Having starred as strong female leads for over two decades, Fonda concedes that the ability to make the drug-wielding, hypersexual mature female character sympathetic owes mainly to the work done by organizations like the Women’s Media Center. “I think if women are visible in the media, truly visible, in an empowered role, it empowers us to be more visible in any area of our lives,” she said. Gloria Steinem agreed, calling the film “fan-fucking-tastic” to an agreeable audience and echoing the importance of women in media. “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” she told us. 

True to its promise to appeal to women, Chace Crawford, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and newcomer Nat Wolff supply the eye candy in the lady-driven film, directed by Academy Award-nominated director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy). In an artistic leap, Morgan survives all 96 minutes of the film (as opposed to several of his memorably ill-fated past characters) and spoke to the advantages of supporting a strong female cast. “It wasn’t too bad, I’m not going to lie. I didn’t have to buff up. I did have to sing, though, and I’m a horrendous singer,” a modest Morgan said of his onstage performance with surprise songbird Catherine Keener. 

No stranger to ensemble casts with prominent female leads, Chace Crawford plays a small-town butcher with a heart of gold, who is consistently impugned by Zoe, played by Elizabeth Olsen, who earns her acting praise by convincingly denying Crawford’s advances. “Everyone keeps asking me about Jane Fonda, who I wasn’t able to interact with so much, but I just want to talk about Lizzy!” said Crawford of the on-the-rise ingénue. Crawford took the break from his high-tension Manhattan drama seriously.  “It was kind of nice to be the pawn. I took off the Gossip Girl makeup, I let the beard grow out a little. It was like a paid vacation,” he said.