Iris is broke after her divorce and takes a job working as a housekeeper for a wealthy woman named Paula. When Paula and her husband separate, an unlikely friendship blossoms between the women.

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Writers:

(novel), (teleplay)
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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Iris
...
Winston Rekert ...
...
Leo
...
Beth
...
Callie
...
Graham
Alec Willows ...
Marcus
Denalda Williams ...
Yvonne
Peter Yunker ...
Oliver
...
Handsome Welder (as Rick Ravenello)
...
Boutique Owner
Suzanne Ristic ...
Iris' Lawyer
Doug Abrahams ...
Manager
Claire Riley ...
Customs Lawyer
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Storyline

A woman travels to coastal Maine after her divorce to start a job as housekeeper for a bitter, wealthy woman. They do not hit if off, but no one will work for the rich woman, and Field has no skills and needs the job. They each get involved in the other's life and eventually learn to respect and even like one another. This is the story of the journey of two middle-aged women and how they learn to accept what life has to offer. Written by Ed Lorusso

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Envy. Fidelity. Outrage....the start of a beautiful friendship.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

22 August 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adynamies  »

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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Iris is speaking to her daughter from the clothing store, she says she is afraid she is going to be fired that morning. However, one can clearly see that it is dark outside, which would make it evening. See more »

Quotes

Paula Tanner: I don't like the ocean, I never did, I like the desert.
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Connections

Featured in The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sensitive character study for women
15 January 2001 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

This movie was produced by women, for women, about women. It was made for Showtime and is clearly targeted at women in the 35+ age category. It is a good character study of two women and their stormy relationship as employer and housekeeper. Iris Prue (Sally Field) is starting a new life. She divorced her husband and abandoned her comfortable life to seek love and fulfillment with her paramour. Unfortunately, after she gave up everything, her new love didn't work out. She seeks employment as a live-in housekeeper, and she is hired by Paula Tanner (Judy Davis). Paula is an angry, rude and oppressive woman, who goes through housekeepers faster than she goes through laundry. Iris is desperate to keep this job because she has nowhere else to go, and dutifully endures Paula's condescending abuse.

Paula alienates everyone, so it is no surprise that both her daughter and husband can't stand her. Ultimately, her life unravels as her daughter runs away and her husband leaves her. Iris, whom she has completely alienated, is the only person to whom she can turn for support. The rest of the story revolves around their tempestuous relationship and eventual transformation.

Director Susan Seidelman (TV's `Sex in the City') keeps the story interesting, deftly avoiding bogging down, as is often the case in such character studies. Certain parts are very raw and real, capturing feelings only a woman would understand. She is especially sensitive in portraying the difficulties between mothers and daughters. However, though meticulous at capturing the deep emotions resulting from the characters' conflict, Seidelman rushes through the resolution to the point where Paula turns into a completely different person in the span of 10 minutes of screen time.

The acting was superb. Sally Field gives a wonderful performance as the flawed and self-doubting Iris, who is determined to keep her life from disintegrating despite her foolish mistakes. Field captures the complexities of Iris' character, a woman both desperate and proud. As good as Field is, Judy Davis is even better. She is arrogant, insolent and mean, but shows subtle signs that it is all to compensate for her deep-seated insecurity. Her portrayal of Paula's depression and angry blaming of others for her own shortcomings is brilliantly done.

I rated this film a 7/10. I enjoyed it, but I was disappointed by how Seidelman ties up the ending in such a neat little package, ultimately producing characters that bear no resemblance to the imperfect people that we spent so much time getting to know. I believe that relationships can be transforming, but this requires an absurd leap of faith.

Women should see this movie with a female friend. It is probably destined for a long run on the Lifetime Channel. Most men won't get it, and they will probably need at least three bathroom breaks while blithely suggesting you keep the recorder running in their absence. Save this one for girls' night out.


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