Anna and Ben, the two children of Jackie and Luke, have to cope with the fact that their parents divorced and that there is a new woman in their father's life: Isabel, a successful photographer. She does her best to treat the kids in a way that makes them still feel at home when being with their dad, but also loves her work and does not plan to give it up. But Jackie, a full-time mother, regards Isabel's efforts as offensively insufficient. She can't understand that work can be important to her as well as the kids. The conflict between them is deepened by the sudden diagnose of cancer, which might may be deadly for Jackie. They all have to learn a little in order to grow together. Written by
Julian Reischl <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Stepmom" isn't a comedy. It's an emotional drama, although you would easily be forgiven for thinking otherwise. After all, the advertisments and trailers give the impression that it's a romantic comedy, whilst the fact that the picture is directed by Chris Columbus ("Nine Months") emphasises that reading all the more. However whilst this is definitely an emotional, tear-jerking drama, there is the odd comic moment in it, mostly provided by young Liam Aiken as Sarandon's youngest child; a wannabe magician (Who, incidentially, looks like a thug in the making:- A miniture version of Telly from "Kids!").
Anyway, "Stepmom" is a decent movie, partially because Susan Sarandon is so brilliant. Whenever she's on screen, she dominates everything, and is completely convincing. The film also takes an independent viewpoint of its characters; a definite plus. Rather than encouraging us to like or dislike a certain character, we had balanced screen-time and view-points of both. Therefore, whilst we're encouraged to like and relate to Jackie, we also despise her frequently; she's often petty, spiteful and downright nasty for seemingly no reason. The same applies to Julia Robert's character, whom, although we like and dislike in equal amounts, isn't quite as interesting as Sarandon. Ed Harris, is, as usual, superb, although there isn't much chemistry between himself and Roberts, maybe because of the obvious age difference.
Where "Stepmom" goes wrong is in the way so many Hollywood films do - It never really cuts to the issue in question. This is a film about a mental battle between two independent women, but it's also about tragedy and its consequences. It's here the film seems to falter, a bit like the themes of AIDS and homosexuality in "Philadelphia." It's much too soft round the edges for its own good, resulting in a movie that, whilst touching, sad and emotional, still lacks a little maturity.
Whilst the movie avoids the all-too conventional ending (You'll see what I mean when you view the picture), we come away liking the film, but wanting just a little more.
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