47 user 17 critic

Heartburn (1986)

A food writer pregnant with her second baby finds out her husband is having an affair.


Mike Nichols


Nora Ephron (novel), Nora Ephron (screenplay)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Meryl Streep ... Rachel
Jack Nicholson ... Mark
Jeff Daniels ... Richard
Maureen Stapleton ... Vera
Stockard Channing ... Julie
Richard Masur ... Arthur
Catherine O'Hara ... Betty
Steven Hill ... Rachel's Father
Milos Forman ... Dmitri
Mamie Gummer ... Annie (as Natalie Stern)
Karen Akers Karen Akers ... Thelma Rice
Aida Linares Aida Linares ... Juanita
Anna Maria Horsford ... Della
Ron McLarty ... Detective O'Brien
Kenneth Welsh ... Dr. Appel


An autobiographical look at the breakup of Ephron's marriage to Carl "All the President's Men" Bernstein that was also a best-selling novel. The Ephron character, Rachel is a food writer at a New York magazine who meets Washington columnist Mark at a wedding and ends up falling in love with him despite her reservations about marriage. They buy a house, have a daughter, and Rachel thinks they are living happily ever after until she discovers that Mark is having an affair while she is waddling around with a second pregnancy. Written by Lisa Todorovich

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sex... Love... Marriage. Some people don't know when to quit! See more »


Comedy | Drama


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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

6 November 1986 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

El difícil arte de amar See more »

Filming Locations:

Alexandria, Virginia, USA See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film represents the only film and television credit of the late Mary Streep, who was the mother of Meryl Streep. See more »


After saying she was making a key lime pie for dinner, Rachel is seen at a produce dept buying regular limes, rather than key limes. See more »


Mark Forman: My wife's name was Kimberley. One of the first Kimberleys.
Rachel Samstat: My husband had hamsters.
Mark Forman: Me too.
Rachel Samstat: Not as a grownup you didn't. He had hamsters named Arnold and Shirley. And he was always whipping up little salads for them in the Slice-O-Matic and buying them extremely small sweaters at a pet boutique in Rego Park. Also, there was a certain amount of talking in squeaky voices.
Mark Forman: Both of you?
Rachel Samstat: Well, he was Arnold... and I was Shirley.
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User Reviews

A Highly Underrated Film
18 December 2015 | by adithyasivas-234-471768See all my reviews

Am I blind, or did I just see that this film has an overall rating of 6.0/10 on IMDb and a 47% approval rating on RottenTomatoes?


Alright, so let me start this review by stating that I'm a die-hard fan of Jack Nicholson. So, I might be slightly transparent about the flaws of the movie, but there aren't many. This film is very hard to get a hold of actually. I stumbled upon a used DVD store and being a collector of Jack Nicholson's films and a huge fan, I immediately purchased it. I hadn't ever heard of this film until then and made a quick research on IMDb and Wikipedia about the movie. This movie's story is written by Nora Ephron and is loosely based on her life and relationship with real-life journalist Carl Bernstein. On paper, the story of the movie goes like this: Divorced woman meets a sort-of heartless playboy, falls for him, marries him, has children with him, and leaves him after figuring out that he's been cheating on her. Sounds so simple, but in reality, it isn't. That's the reason why we have veteran actors like Nicholson and Meryl Streep on board. Meryl Streep is brilliant. Totally. Even in totally clichéd scenes, she performs to her fullest. Many people might be surprised, but this is actually the first film of Meryl Streep I've seen. I had always wanted to see her work ever since learning that she has the most number of Academy Award nominations for Best Actress or Supporting Actress, but never really got around to doing so. I wonder what her really brilliant performances would be like, if this was off the hook itself. Jack Nicholson plays the uber cool guy he always is and as we always have more often than not, there is a scene of him going totally crazy. But I don't want to give away too many things. You should check out the movie for yourself. This movie also marks the feature-film debut of Kevin Spacey, whom I was quite surprised to see actually, but it turned out that it was only a small cameo.

Story, Screenplay and Direction:

Enough about actors. Lets get down to the story, screenplay and ultimately, the execution of the overall film. This film is ultra-realistic. Except a couple of teeny-tiny moments in the film, you'll be surprised at how super realistic that this film is. Being born in the 90s, I was able to get a slight sense of how life revolved in the 80s and was super-thrilled and totally upset in not being able to experience the US of that era. That is also where the film goes awry, in a sense. It is so realistic, that it loses itself onto you at a point where you wouldn't know what is going on. There are hints of Mark (Jack Nicholson) being a brilliant and a sincere reporter, but we really don't get to see much of that. However, we do get to see a couple of scenes of Rachel (Meryl Streep) working in her NY paper where she's a food journalist, but it doesn't go beyond that. Basically, the emphasis is so much on the character's emotions, especially Streep's, that the film kind of weighs down a bit when you reach the 58 minute mark. Other than this slight niggle, this film is amazing. Streep showcases her character's emotions so perfectly that you actually start to feel for her and get a tight sense of what her character is going through. Jack Nicholson shines in whatever scene he's in, as always, but is ultimately weighed down by a superb display by Meryl Streep. I was surprised that she hadn't gotten an Oscar Nomination for this, but hey, Nicholson didn't either, for 'The Shining (1980)', which was one of his best works in the 80s.

Technical Work:

The cinematography is top-notch too, considering the fact that this was the 80s. I had initially thought that this was a Stanley Kubrick film, which always has the best camera work. But it was good to know that Mike Nichols also had an affinity towards great camera work and composition to each and every scene. Lastly, I had learned that this film had become even more popular because of the superb musical score by Carly Simon. 'Coming Around Again' is too good. Whoever you are, whatever era you were born into, you would surely have heard this song, even if you might not be able to recognize it just by reading the name.

Overall, this is a brilliant film, with a very few cons. You should definitely watch it, if only for Meryl Streep's performance.

This is a very, very highly underrated film.

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