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This film is getting a 9 based soley on the completely misleading
I went into this expecting a love story between Carter Webb (Adam Brody) and Lucy Hardwicke (Kristen Stewart). I was expecting a dramatic age-gap romance with an ending about his having to go back to Los Angeles.
What I got was a totally confusing love hexagon that ended up not being about love at all.
Carter just got dumped. So he decides to go to Michigan to live with his grandmother (who is by far the best and most interesting character) and ends up becoming really close to the women across the street.
While it was moving, touching, and all that good stuff, I left the theater with one thought in my mind. "What the hell just happened?" It was fantastic. I would highly recommend it. However, I would not recommend expecting what I did. Don't go into this hoping that the trailers and poster (which show a lovely romance between Carter and Lucy) ring true to the film. That is not at all what the story is about. It would make a great film, in my opinion, and I still wish it had taken that direction, but sadly it did not. While still fantastic, you should expect a film about real people (with many flaws and weaknesses that humans have, like the inability to to stand up for themselves) not a movie like "She's All That" where the two young, good-looking people fall in love with an epic romance.
That is not this film. Go see it. But see it to see a great study on characters, not story.
This movie was billed as a romantic comedy, but it's really a drama, and it was so much better than I expected! Redemptive and thought-provoking, this movie raises questions about if women and men can be friends without romantic undertones, and includes themes of forgiveness and living life fully. Meg Ryan is always real and lovable, and Adam Brody is a great counterpart. It's so great to see him as a leading man. I loved him in The O.C., but hopefully the bulk of his career is ahead of him. Scenes between him and the grandmother were hilarious. Very well directed. Definitely one to see with your friends and discuss over coffee afterwards--don't take your parents.
I admit to be surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. Well cast,
Meg Ryan in particular.
I enjoyed the dialog, the understated humor, and the story line. The grandmother's role left me somewhat confused, not sure I understand why it was written (or played) the way that it was. However that may be it was the device to get the main character Wisconsin, or was that Michigan? Meg Ryan finally had a role that she excel in. Just the right touch of someone who is more than they seem, and not realizing that themselves. Very interesting story between she and the main character...how they reach out and touch each other, impact each other's lives. Wish the movie had been about twenty minutes longer to better develop the characters and the interaction between them...but two hour movies just aren't the norm anymore and the 100 minutes must suffice. However, it was a 100 minutes well spent.
Finally, Hollywood is getting closer to emotional maturity and
creativity. In the Land of Women was a delightful surprise. I recommend
it to anyone who enjoys delving into the underlying thread of emotion
connecting our relationships. As we meander through the sometimes messy
connections between characters -- I don't remember any Hollywood
sterilization of the situations. We continue, sometimes blind, just
like the characters in the story -- and we get an excellent play-out of
what ordinary "good" people do to strive to survive and better
We need more movies like this one -- a "chick-flick" that is more. It makes us think and it makes us feel!
Carter (Adam Brody) says to teenager Lucy (Kristen Stewart), "It's a
big world out there. It's messy
and you can't let fear turn you into
an ass----." Carter reminds Lucy that she should cut her Mom a break,
because she may be dying. Even at a young age, she needs to appreciate
that the world does not revolve around her, and knock it off. This is
the context of Writer and Director Jonathan Kasdan's (son of Lawrence
Kasdan) "In the Land of Women". This is Kasdan's feature film debut as
director. The material is not entirely original, we have seen similar
before. However, Kasdan's storytelling is deeply personal, strikingly
poignant, and bittersweet. Much like his Dad, he demonstrates an ease
in composing relationships. He has also assembled a wonderful cast.
Adam Brody (of "The O.C.") is amazing in the lead. Kristen Stewart
("Speak") is maturing as a powerful young star. Meg Ryan, who plays
Lucy's suffering mother Sarah Hardwicke, is awesome giving one of her
best performances in years. I think what "In the Land of Women" does so
eloquently, is illustrate the pain of those things missing in life, and
our blind spots created by our self-absorption. The indelible image of
Meg Ryan's Sarah standing alone in the down pouring rain, crying in
isolation is stark, moving, and so very human. More than anything, I
think Kasdan touchingly pleads for compassion in our relationships that
is decent and forgiving.
Carter Webb (Brody) is a soft core erotica writer, who is dating beautiful movie star Sofia (gorgeous Elena Anaya). As the movie opens, Sofia breaks up with Carter. Devastated Carter sees his mom Agnes (funny and good JoBeth Williams). Carter volunteers to take care of his ailing grandmother Phyllis (the great Olympia Dukakis) in Michigan, giving him an excuse to get out of Los Angeles for a while. Carter befriends Sarah Hardwicke (Ryan) and her daughter Lucy (Stewart), who lives across the street from his grandmother. Sarah is dealing with possible personal tragedyshe has discovered a lump in her breast. Lucy harbors an unusual disdain for her Mom, even for a teenager. Sarah tells Carter that she tries to stay out of her way, as not to "embarrass her". Sarah's husband Nelson (Clark Gregg) is having an affair with another woman, and both Sarah and Lucy are aware. Lucy proclaims that she does not ever want to be like her Mom. The under current in Lucy's judgment is that Mom is weak. Sad and strong Sarah eloquently says to Carter, "I don't want to look back on my life and wonder what part belonged to me " Carter forms a relationship with both Sarah and Lucythe twist being at Sarah's encouragement. Kasdan brilliantly orchestrates this relation tie, never awkward, becoming only something that evolves. After all, "In the Land of Women" is about women, and life.
Adam Brody is amazing as Carter. His low key presence, and insightful smarts work "In the Land of Women". His Carter's growth from arrogant heartbroken soul to being a "great listener", who cares about others, is moving. And Brody does this with a light and humorous touch. Kristen Stewart is a star. Stewart resonates in Lucy a bold spirit and smart edge. She beautifully captures Lucy's angst and vulnerability as a teenager defining her self. Makenzie Vega makes an impressive turn as Lucy's younger sister Paige, the precocious yoga practicing preteen. Vega has a touching scene with Mom Sarah in the ice cream shop. Olympia Dukakis is brilliantly subtle as Grandmother Phyllis. For the most part she is comic relief. However, her character provides a wake up call to Carter: "One day I am going to be dead, and you will still be alive " Meg Ryan is awesome as Sarah. I have always been a fan. She is older now, still beautiful and displaying great power as an actor. Ryan movingly imposes a quiet strength of character in Sarah, who endures a loveless marriage, daughter who hates her, and life and death. Sarah by nature has to always keep it together, so when she asks Carter for help it is out of tremendous courage. As she stands inconsolable in the rain, her suffering is heartbreaking. Meg Ryan's humanity gives "In the Land of Women" grace and poignancy.
John Kasdan's "In the Land of Women" is bittersweet and moving. Adam Brody, Meg Ryan, and Kristen Stewart are great in Kasdan's tale of compassion and forgiveness. Kasdan accomplishes this all with resounding heart and humor.
With a title like "In the Land of Women," one might expect a grueling
exercise in overdone immature comedy. Instead, Jonathan Kasdan delivers
a heartfelt, poignant drama dissecting the values of life, love, and
friendship, and the experiences that change the views held by its
brilliant cast of interconnected characters.
After a disheartening breakup with his girlfriend, Carter (Adam Brody) attempts to distance himself from his troubles by traveling to suburban Michigan to visit his dying grandmother, Phyllis (Olympia Dukakis). Shortly after his arrival Carter meets Sarah Hardwicke (Meg Ryan), the neighborly mother who lives across the street, and he quickly becomes intrigued by her charming nature and unique outlook on life. When he meets Sarah's two daughters, Lucy (Kristen Stewart) and Paige (Makenzie Vega), and becomes a sort of confidant to all three girls, his own views on life and love begin to change as his relationship with each helps to mend the emotional tears in their family.
The characters are the true foundation of In the Land of Women, and finer performances are rarely seen. Carter is an instantly likable persona thanks to Adam Brody and his polished portrayal of a character with realistic flaws and believable aspirations. He is a writer who dreams of utilizing his talent for a more worthwhile venture and finds love in the unlikeliest of situations. Meg Ryan embodies a far more complex character than we're used to seeing, and evokes everything from affection to pathos from her audience. Both Kristen Stewart and Makenzie Vega are talented beyond their years and offer astonishingly intense and mature performances. The likeably morose Phyllis provides much of the comedy relief and also forces Carter to rethink his notions of death and view life in a new light. The compellingly poignant interactions between each character infuse a level of believability into their unusual predicaments to create a connection with the audience almost as strong as the ones they have with each other.
Perhaps Land's only flaw is also one of its finest points of originality and creativity. The intelligent dialogue that permeates the script both draws its audience into its world of intriguing characters while simultaneously keeping the viewer slightly distanced from the realism displayed. Do people truly have such emotionally charged and heart-wrenchingly challenging conversations? Perhaps not, but one can always hope, and the complex characters created here masterfully reveal an idyllic example of such individuals. While the situations portrayed may seem overly complicated, every character involved handles themselves exactly as one would want to see and every increasingly difficult predicament and strained relationship is made believable through exceptional acting and inspired dialogue. No real stumbles or faltering exists in their interactions, but a very real hesitation and a touch of uncertainty in certain conversations adds to the overall attractiveness of each character as they cope with their trying relationships. Only once was an intensely interesting moment cut short (an emotional sequence in a diner when Paige demands the truth from her mother, and consequently the respect involved with comprehending its weight), forcing me to ponder why one such memorable scene wasn't concluded more satisfactorily when all others were.
Subtle humor permeates much of the film, persuading the tone to remain light. Idyllic conclusions find their way into somber and delicate situations resulting in a moving, feel-good movie where tears of joy will likely replace those of sorrow. Though over-sentimentality may intrude upon satisfying drama from time to time, excellent pacing, endearing characters superbly acted, and thought-provoking, poignant dialogue make this Land one worth visiting.
- Joel Massie
The mainstream drama with comedy continues to improve with time and "In The Land of Women" is no exception. In a return of Meg Ryan along with some new young actors, this movie has some fine moments of focus on higher level emotional and narrative dialogues without the stuffy intellectual performances. There is a rich content of feelings here dealing with good topics without necessarily becoming sappy. One criticism regarding the weak ending can be considered its strength. This storyline of this feature film doesn't follow the typical path of most romance dramas to its credit. More along the line of "Lost in Translation" with a plot, this movie touches more on mood and redirecting the audience to important concepts about relationships and real situations in an entertaining, sometimes funny, sometimes sad delivery. While no Neil Simon perfection and the balance between comedy and drama is off, as only a personal preference, this movie suffers from that difficulty fine balance. Nevertheless its a fine film. Eight out of Ten Stars.
The Kasdan Family has made a significant mark on the better films of
Hollywood and Jon Kasdan (writer/director of IN THE LAND OF WOMEN)
holds those values of fine cinema intact. Having appeared as an actor
in some films of his father Lawrence Kasdan (Grand Canyon, The Big
Chill, Body Heat, Mumford, Dreamcatcher, The Bodyguard, etc), he has
not only inherited his father's credo of making meaningful statements
about life as we are currently living it, he has absorbed the fluid
character development of those films and added his own sensitive touch
with graceful dialog. He is a talent to watch.
Soft porn writer Carter Webb (Adam Brody in a very fine performance) lives in Los Angeles near his depressed mother (JoBeth Williams) and has just been dumped by his actress girlfriend Sofia Buñuel (Elena Anaya). When his mother learns of her mother's failing state, the distraught Carter offers to travel to suburban Michigan to stay with his grandma Phyllis (Olympia Dukakis). Once in picturesque Michigan Carter deals with his lovable but eccentric grandma and meets the across the street neighbors - mother Sarah (Meg Ryan in fine form), daughters Lucy (Kristin Stewart) and the younger Paige (Makenzie Vega), and errant husband Nelson (Clark Gregg). In this setting of a 'woman world' Carter is key to aiding the various maladies of each of the women while addressing his own disappointing failed relationship. The manner in which he intervenes by simply being present and tender and caring makes a positive impact on not only those around him but also on his own life and talent as a meaningful writer.
In what could have been a soupy chick flick Jon Kasdan has instead provided a script that has a healthy dose of homespun philosophy and has guided his multi-talented cast to offer some of their finest moments on film. This is an entertaining movie, but it is also a balm for viewers who have experienced life-threatening illness, broken homes, coping with the elderly, and ultimately coping with death. It simply works. Grady Harp
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't always leave a movie feeling like everything might actually be
OK. But this movie did it. It showed that life sends us in a million
different directions. But its OK, cause thats life. As superficial as
it might sound, we're alive(Phylis did a good job of showing us this).
I think this was an awesome movie, even though it wasn't at all what I
expected. However, it's kind of cool to finally be surprised in a
movie, unlike the normal predictableness that has become Hollywood.
Adam Brody did an extremely exceptional job of playing a guy that didn't know where he was going in life, in the meantime taking care of his grandma, who was convinced she was dieing.
On the other hand, Meg Ryan played a sick mother who was trying to mend her broken relationship with her daughter. I feel there's something in the movie for everyone, or at least all women.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Land of Women" is the quintessential example of how so many of todays
movies can be full of plastic characters, inane dialogue, and
hopelessly under developed plots and still manage to get some poor slob
to think its a good movie. The main character is a kid that runs off to
live with his grandmother and for some reason, morphs immediately into
the old man on the mountain as far as teaching life's secrets and
dispensing endless wisdom. Mind you this stupid punk doesn't utter even
a line that qualifies as indiscernible common sense in the entire
movie. Never mind anything that is going to make a women swoon with his
charm and charisma. Except of course the family of broads that live
across the street from his grandmother that collectively seem to have
never managed a life 'till the "wise" young punk moves to the
neighborhood. The empty, plastic subplots and dialogue in this movie
are far too numerous to give attention to in individual detail. Suffice
it to say that the hapless viewer is supposed to accept that a
righteous babe like Meg Ryan, who doesn't seem to have any job and has
nothing better to do all day than to stroll the neighborhood with her
dog, has never up until the stupid kids arrival met up with anyone that
wants to listen to her, walk with her, or grow close to her and gain
enough of her confidence to have her confessing about her husbands
infidelity. She seems to have no friends or family that are available
to listen to her whining, so she latches on to the "duh" looking punk
that wanders the front lawn next door. Allow me to confess that I find
it inconceivable that a looker like Meg Ryan with so much time on her
hands and exposure seems to have up until the kids arrival, never been
able to locate a sympathetic ear. (Trust me, if Meg Ryan was to be in
my neighborhood all the time alone and walking a dog, she would find
herself being infested with sympathetic ears.) She seems to hang on his
every word and thought as if he is the true coming in her life of some
living bastion of all things wise and wonderful. Yet when she gets
around to confessing to him that her husband is having an affair after
a mere couple of outings together, his response is " I have no concept
of what that feels like". Would anyone out there reading this honestly
surmise that someone you just confessed something heartfelt and hurtful
to, who's first response is that they have no idea of what it is you
are feeling, come to conclude that that person is someone who's opinion
you will eagerly seek out and listen to at a very difficult time in
your life? Why should he have any concept of what she is feeling. He is
in reality shallow, immature, and stupid. But for some reason none of
the women in this family seem to grasp the obvious. When the kid later
on tells Meg Ryan that he thinks her husband must be out of his mind to
be cheating on her, (although he doesn't even really know her at all
and is just turned on by this hot milf who seems to love for some
reason being around him) she tilts her head all puppy dog style and
basks in the glow of the compliment. Like Hello??, you don't have a
clue that this kid just has the hots for you and has never even met
your husband that he has just judged. Oh and there is more. Meg Ryan
talks her underage daughter, (who she is distant from, but the reason
why is never explained), into going on an outing with the kid so he can
get to know some of her friends and all, and is then shocked and
concerned when she up and falls for him. Did anyone else see that scene
coming? Obviously Mom of the year Meg Ryan didn't. Then of course there
is the youngest daughter, the so called "genius" that seems to have no
problem getting a handle on things like quantum physics, but has never
heard of cancer. She of course falls in love with the dork and asks him
to marry her when she grows up. Although among the trilogy of dumb
broads in this family, it is the little one he has the least amount of
interaction with. But of course it all makes sense in this ridiculous
movie for he is the embodiment of all things grand and gregarious. This
entire movie is in fact all things stupid, and that of garbage.
This movie hopelessly fails at even the bare minimum standards of a chick flick. If the chick in your life ever suggests it, do yourself a favor. Go screaming into the night.....
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