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Having previously tackled a wide range of themes in his films, Director
Curtis Hanson delves into the love/hate relationship of two disparate
sisters in the film, In Her Shoes. The result is an enjoyably
entertaining comedy/drama featuring a number of topflight performances
and some hilarious dialogue.
Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz) is an irresponsible, practically illiterate alcoholic who sleeps around and mooches or steals to get by in the world. Her sister, Rose Feller (Toni Collette) is a self conscious, workaholic lawyer who is dating her boss and indulges in her one passion, fashionable dress shoes. (Maggie's obsession with Rose's sexy heels recalls an ongoing theme of television's Sex and the City.) Both sisters lost their psychologically impaired mother to a supposed car accident that affected their family over the years. One day Maggie is thrown out of her house by her step mother and dad. Finding refuge with her sister, Rose, she proceeds to make life miserable with her carefree attitude and interference that ends in embarrassment and anger for both. As Rose's romantic and professional life is turned upside down, Maggie is sent packing and turns to one last hope, her maternal grandmother she never knew, namely Ella Hirsch (Shirley MacLaine). Ella works in a retirement community in Florida, and Maggie's appearance causes quite a stir. When she lost her daughter, Ella lost touch with her granddaughters, and Maggie's 'visit' serves as a catalyst for reconnection. Maggie's visit becomes a reawakening of sorts for herself and a chance for Ella to rediscover her lost family. Meanwhile, Rose is at a crossroads in her life and decides to change course in her job and finds romance from an unlikely source. Anxious to reunite her granddaughters, Ella resorts to extreme measures to bridge an emotional gap as her two girls begin to discover their own identities in unique and unexpected ways.
This is a gem of a film. It says something when you realize early on that you are watching something special. Curtis Hanson (L.A.Confidential, Wonder Boys) has struck gold with Susannah Grant's (Erin Brokovich) adaptation of the best seller by Jennifer Weiner. The film is really about the secrets and lies that cripple a family over time and how a strange course of events revisit the relationships or lack thereof. Hanson and the company do a marvelous job of balancing some very funny dialogue with more serious, dramatic scenes. There are some great, memorable lines, some of which are funny and smart without losing sight of the context of the story. A number of scenes are touching and affecting in their sensitive handling of real emotions without becoming clichéd. It's nice to see real people who change over time and how seemingly inconsequential supporting characters gradually come to the forefront.
The acting by the entire cast is strong and you appreciate the little nuances in facial expression and inflection of dialogue that enrich each character. This may be Cameron Diaz's best performance. That's saying something as the glamorous model has been more star than actress in her most popular films (Charlie's Angels, There's Something About Mary) and she is given a juicy role with sharp direction. Toni Collette has always been a solid actress in any film (Sixth Sense, The Hours) but she has found a wonderful character in Rose and makes the most of it. Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, The Turning Point) is terrific in what is a change of pace role where she eschews makeup to look her age and shows a maternal wisdom that is the stuff of Supporting Oscars. You wish there were more of her in the film, but what's there is delicious. It's nice to see an old pro like Norman Lloyd still displaying his acting chops in what is a minor role of a bed-ridden patient who has a profound influence on Diaz's character.
The performances are complemented by seamless editing which not only captures the right reactions, but effortlessly switches back and forth between the two sisters especially during key scenes that are thematically linked. Although the running time goes over two hours, the pacing is good, and everything seems integral to the storyline. The musical score by Mark Isham is quite effective in complimenting the emotional moments without ever being intrusive.
Despite its strong script, the film never fully explores Maggie's transformation which, while uplifting and remarkable, is never totally convincing given her origins and tendencies. Things get wrapped up in a dreamy sendoff which is perhaps too good to be true, but those same qualities also make for a more upbeat film.
Hanson displays a very keen eye in relating what is essentially a woman's film. Yes, this may be considered a woman's film in its theme and target audience, but considering the fact it is also a well made, funny, and heart rending film about love and family, the women ought to bring along the men. In Her Shoes is not just about rival sisters but rather it is about a family yanked apart and slowly brought together again in ways that are not altogether apparent at the start. How these lost souls meld together is the stuff of high entertainment and substance.
Greetings again from the darkness. Caught a screening of this after
only seeing one trailer, which had done little to spark my interest. I
will issue a "chick flick" alert; however, this is a rare case of that
alert not ruining a movie for guys. This is an excellent film, period.
Director Curtis Hanson, who helmed one of my all-time favs "L.A. Confidential" brings a reality to the film that prevents it from ever sinking into "Beaches" muck. The three lead actors are all outstanding. Cameron Diaz flashes some real ability as party girl turned soul searcher. Shirley MacLaine is terrific as the long-lost grandmother who has wised up and is thrilled to be re-discovered. The always great Toni Collette ("The Sixth Sense" mom) is the heart of the the film, despite her character's lack of confidence, which usually sends me into a coma. This overused female trait is handled quite differently by writer and director and actor, thereby creating a great deal of interest for the viewer.
The dialogue is real, the characters are real and the settings are real. These are people and families and relationships that we can all relate to. The script proves that most family dysfunction is the result of poor communication, not bad people. Regrets can eat away and just become part of the fabric of a family. Once they are hit head-on, there is much to gain by all involved.
Two supporting cast members really stand out. Francine Beers as Mrs. Lefkowitz, a retirement community neighbor of Ms. MacLaine's character shows wisdom and color beyond her (many) years. Should-be Hollywood legend Norman Lloyd has a warm and heartfelt role as a hospital patient who has much to offer. Mr. Lloyd has quietly put together an incredible career as Actor, Director and Producer and should receive more recognition for his accomplishments. My personal favorite was his role as the head of TV's underrated "St. Elsewhere" from the 1980's.
I hope the trailer does not prevent men from seeing the film as I believe this is one of the best of the year. Kudos to Mr. Hanson - he scores again!
The Fall season is when the intelligent, adult films are supposed to
come out, and "In Her Shoes" is the first one this year.
A story about sibling rivalry and bonding did not initially have much interest for me, but this is a good example of how a well made film can transcend it's subject matter.
This is one of the best acted films of the year. Toni Collette bears the brunt of having to carry the film because her character is central to the story, and she does a great job. She is convincing as the frumpy older sister of Cameron Diaz, who always gets the guys but who is illiterate and an alcoholic. Shirley MacLaine is the feisty, estranged grandmother. The film starts kind of slow, but gets much better when MacLaine shows up.
This film has a lot in common with a film that came out last month called "Proof." That film had a good story but had poor photography and directing. "In Her Shoes" looks like every frame was done with meticulous detail. The directing is done with confidence and the film does not suffer from the rapid cut camera angles that so many films suffer from these days.
It's no secret that this year's box office has suffered due to the poor quality of the films. The success of "In Her Shoes" will be a good yardstick to tell if people will go to the theater for a quality film.
If you've been waiting for an intelligent, moving film without the gun shots and helicopter chases, "In Her Shoes" is a film you should see.
Guys, if you have a girlfriend, take her to see this film. If you don't take your mother or sister. If you still don't have a lady friend to take and see this film with you take yourself and learn something important and heart warming about the story of love, learning and friendship. I was one of three guys in the audience and I have to say I walked away feeling that it is never to late to make good decisions and everyone of every age and sex has something important to contribute. The casting was excellent, the laughs were sincere and those moments where the knot in your throat gets tighter are the real emotions that we all feel. This is honestly a well constructed story that flows off the screen with excellent performances by Cameron Diaz, Tony Collette and the fabulous Shirley MacLaine. Everyone that performed in this film made it complete and the feel good movie of the year!
"In Her Shoes" is noteworthy for its crisp dialogue, lively repartee,
and multi-dimensional characters, For her novel and for her screenplay,
Jennifer Weiner and Susannah Grant, respectively, both deserve an extra
curtain call for exemplary work.
Because of the careful scripting, all three of the leading characters played by Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz, and Shirley MacLaine were strong roles with no single character dominating the script. The two sisters, Rose and Maggie, shared the focus in the first half of the film, and MacLaine's grandmother Ella provided a strong impetus in the latter portion.
While all three performances were superb, the trickiest role was Maggie the tomcat. Cameron Diaz brought depth to the role, and one scene especially stood out when Maggie's learning disability was revealed. As she struggled with her reading of the poem in the hospital room, a new dimension of the character suddenly emerged. The scene was sensitively played by Diaz, and the dialogue was, once again, dynamic, sustaining dramatic interest at a point when the impetus of the film could have been lost.
It was impressive as well that the screenplay offered some delectable dialogue for the small parts, especially in the members of the retirement community of Florida. There were many delightful and humorous moments. Yet, the screenplay provided depth and detail in a rich emotional tapestry.
One character that deserves special acknowledgment was the Professor, blind and dying in the Florida hospital. The role was played with great understatement by Norman Lloyd, a veteran character actor who performed with Orson Welles' celebrated Mercury Theatre. Prior to his stunning success in "Citizen Kane" and even before his notorious "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast, Welles was a luminary in the New York theatre. One of the great Shakespearean productions in America in the last century was Welles' 1937 production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" that was part of the Federal Theatre Project. Norman Lloyd played the small but crucial role of Cinna the Poet, and, although Lloyd battled with Welles during the rehearsals, the death scene of Cinna the Poet underscored the theme of fascism that Welles wished to evoke. "In Her Shoes" provides Lloyd with another small, but memorable role. Lloyd's was a riveting performance, and the film would not have been the same without it.
Part of the genius of Shakespeare was his ability to individualize and make memorable even the tiniest roles in his plays. This was the strength as well of "In Her Shoes" and an example of some of the finest screen writing in recent years.
I don't get all this "chick flick" talk. This is a wonderful movie. I did not expect a Hollywood movie to have characters with depth and an interesting complex family story. Cameron Diaz is a terrific comedic actress (regardless of her obvious sex appeal). Shirley Maclaine plays understated older women and Toni Collenette continues to be a excellent actress. There was good chemistry between all three. Some of the minor characters, especially in Florida were quite good. As a guy I hope all this "chick flick" talk does not deter serious film goers who want to have a rally good time at the movies. This is an intelligent movie for adults- not aimed at the 15-19 year-old set.
Old wounds, family secrets, screwed up relationships with perfectly logical explanations. A film that starts beautifully and then spends an inordinate amount of time meandering to finally arrive to its soft but beautiful center. Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette have wonderful moments as the star crossed sisters. Their feelings as genuine as they are, never seem to find a common ground until Shirley MacLaine makes her entrance. I must confess I was very moved by her, by her performance. Her most human and real in many, many years. She is the glue that keeps all the elements together and presents them to us with that unmistakable flair of hers for feisty truths and uncompromising tough love. I don't know quite how I feel about Curtis Hanson as a director. Personally, my favorite of his films is "Wonder Boys" and in a way "In Her Shoes" is closer to that one, without being as good, than any of his other movies. However, I'm recommending it wholeheartedly, specially to my sisters.
Maggie Feller is a destructive young woman who has no regards for her
sister Rose, or anyone, for that matter, as we meet her. This Maggie is
a mess, but what caused her to be that way? One keeps wondering how she
could even be related to the meticulous Rose, a lawyer, who seems to be
in control of her life. That is, until Maggie appears at Rose's door
and disrupts her life, committing the ultimate sin, messing around with
her sister's lover! The only thing these sisters have in common is the
passion for the fancy shoes Rose loves to buy and Maggie, a penniless
girl can't afford.
Curtis Hanson directed this film in which the main characters are women. Men only play a small part in this tale about two young sisters, that in spite of loving each other, grow distant because the carelessness of Maggie. Adapted from the Jennifer Weiner novel of the same title, the movie version was adapted by Susannah Grant.
The main reason for watching this uneven film is Toni Collette, who as Rose, gives one of her most detailed performances in recent memory. Ms. Collette makes us believe she is this woman whose life unravels because her irresponsible sister. Ms. Collette is perfect as the mousy Rose, who secretly would like to be like her sister, but can't bring herself to do it.
Cameron Diaz goes into a transformation in the film. We get a hint of her problems as she auditions for an MTV spot. She has grown into a wild young woman because her mother was not around to supervise, or pay attention to the sisters. But whereas Rose goes to make something of her life, Maggie rebels and does destructive things to herself. It is not until she gets to meet her unknown grandmother that she begins to put her life to good use and in the process discovers what's wrong with her.
Shirley MacLaine is seen in one of the most sedate characters of her screen career as the grandmother Ella. Family problems intervened between her and a son in law that didn't want to have her around at any cost and alienated Ella from her granddaughters. Ms. MacLaine disappears into her role and gives an underplayed performance that sets well with her two co-stars.
While the film could have used some trimming, the first half has a little more spark than the second part, which turns into a formula picture. Curtis Hanson doesn't break any new ground with this film.
Enjoyable but slightly flawed, In Her Shoes is definitely deeper than a chick-flick in the handling of the characters. Toni Collette is excellent as usual, as well as Shirley MacLaine, yet I couldn't help thinking while watching that I should read the book it was based on and get a deeper look at these people and their lives. I felt the film could have gone into more detail and I expected it to be longer, as so many plot developments felt somewhat simplified to fit them all in to a 2-hour running time. That's my biggest criticism of the film, but it was enjoyable in general and I had a wonderful time watching. A few other things I enjoyed: the Rocky reference (my favorite), and the opening sequence during the credits. I have to credit this last one to both screenwriter and director for this incredible opening, which in completely visual terms sets up the film's themes. The titles are presented in cuts between the two sisters, highlighting both their conflict and their connection to one another. Generally, it has a nice balance between dead-seriousness and light drama, but I wish there was more of it to comment on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay Ladies it is time to gather up all the important women in your
life, leave the boys at home and head to the movie theater for In Her
Shoes staring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacClaine.
This comedy/drama begins with Rose (Collette) having to pick up her drunk and passed out sister, Maggie (Diaz) from her 10-year high school reunion.
When Rose tries to take Maggie back home where she stills lives with her parents, Maggie is kicked out by her wicked stepmother, Sydelle. Rose has no choice but to take her sister back home with her.
From here the tension and conflict grows as Rose and Maggie are polar opposites. In fact, the only similarity they share is their size eight-and-a-half shoes. Maggie's irresponsible and promiscuous ways eventually drive the two apart after a very awkward and dramatic fallout.
After the fight, Maggie finds herself in Florida and Rose finds herself searching for a change. Although angry and apart, the two can't help but miss the other desperately.
The movie, based on the novel by Jennifer Weiner, was brilliantly re-written for the big screen by Susannah Grant and directed by Curtis Hanson.
All of the actors did an award winning performance although the Oscar should definitely go to Collette who simply shined.
I believe that Cameron Diaz had a little too much of the spotlight in the trailers and promotional poster, but fortunately was not all the focus in the actual movie.
Overall In Her Shoes gets four out of four stars. This is definitely a movie that will make you realize exactly how important all the women in your life truly are. It's just not possible for a chick-flick to get any better than this!
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