With the upcoming dramedy The Last Word, gem of screen and stage Shirley MacLaine takes on the sort of role that actresses over 80 (hell, actresses over fifty) don’t get nearly enough of. She portrays one Harriet Lauler, a retired businesswoman and an objectively insufferable jerk. She’s rude and condescending when not outright abusive to those around her, insistent on controlling everything and commanding everyone. (The most clutch line from the trailer above: when her OB/GYN recalls being told, “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”) She’s a difficult, contemptible character, and for mature actresses, those are always in short supply.

In the latest film from I Melt With You director Mark Pellington, Harriet confronts the realization that she is not long for this world, and decides to facilitate the writing of her own obituary in one final grasp at total control. Anne, the young newspaper staffer (Amanda Seyfried, evidently going through some stuff of her own) assigned to her, hits a wall when she’s unable to find a single solitary soul with a good thing to say about Harriet, and compels the aging terror to re-examine her choices in life. That, somehow, leads her to friendship with a wisecracking black child and a gig as a radio DJ claimed with surprising ease.

Harriet will undergo one of those Sundance-friendly personal transformations when the film makes its premiere at, oh, the Sundance Film Festival in January before coming to theaters on March 3 of next year. And Anne may just learn a little something about herself, and this crazy adventure called life, along the way.

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