Beth Henley's play about three eccentric sisters in the south is adapted well to the screen, thanks in part to the careful direction of Bruce Beresford. Diane Keaton plays Lennie, the eldest sister, who's feelings of awkwardness prevent her from being happy. Jessica Lange is Meg, the fast-moving middle sister who packed up and left town for the big lights of Hollywood, only to be disappointed. And Sissy Spacek is Babe, the kooky youngest sister, recently charged with shooting her husband.
The sisters are tormented by their cousin and neighbor, Chick, played by Tess Harper. Her own desire to be an upstanding member of the ladies league, combined with her desire to outshine and belittle her cousins, make her the villain in this story.
The sisters are reunited when Babe shoots her husband. As she says, she 'didn't like his stinkin' looks.' Babe is slightly unbalanced. After shooting him in the stomach she went out and made herself a pitcher of lemonade. What was most bizarre was that she then had the nerve to offer him a glass!
Over the course of several days the sisters confront the demons that have been troubling them. Lennie has 'shrunken ovaries' and therefore cannot have children. She believes that this is keeping her from getting a man. Meg is tortured by her own selfishness. The rumors about her convincing Doc Porter (played by Sam Sheppard) to hang around in during a hurricane, only to suffer a life altering leg injury, are all true.
The film reads like the play from which is came from. The scenes are often long. The dialogue marches on from subject to subject. The characters are well fleshed out, however most of the information we get comes from suggestions and flashbacks made by the characters. One must listen to the dialogue in this film in order to truly follow the story.
The acting is first rate by all four leads. Sissy Spacek and Tess Harper are definate standouts. They each received nominations at the Oscars that year. Lange and Keaton play their parts well. The cast works as an ensemble, with no upstaging, but rather opportunities for everyone to shine.
Crimes of the Heart is a first rate piece that may not be appropriate for all movie goers, simply because it requires the viewer to pay attention to detail. The action is slow moving, making room for some wonderful dialogue.
Enjoy this film as it offers some great acting with a pretty decent script.