Rachel is a 35 year old school teacher who has no man in her life and lives with her mother. When a man from the big city returns and asks her out, she begins to have to make decisions about her life and where she wants it to go.
Rita, a middle aged New York City homemaker, finds herself in an emotional crisis which forces her to re-examine her life, as well as her relationships with her mother, her eye doctor ... See full summary »
Two couples find love and comfort in London. A reserved, but lonely aging American female college professor meets a self-confident, married, but disillusioned aging American and aging English actress meets a young lively American.
A cantankerous widower (Garner) who is virtually living the life of a recluse is forced to rejoin his community when his Godchild (Skaggs) gets in trouble and a childhood friend (Cobbs), a ... See full summary »
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person." Based on Anne Tyler's novel, the movie centers on Rebecca Davitch, a 53-year-old single ... See full summary »
Joanne Woodward and James Garner elevate a bland Ann Tyler adaptation
First, Ann Tyler is one of my favorite authors, and I have enjoyed all of her books from the decades-old ones to her most recent ones and she may be retired now. "Breathing Lessons" is one I read at least twice, and one of her best. When the VHS of the Hallmark adaptation showed up at the local thrift store I just had to buy it and spend a quiet Saturday evening viewing it.
For anyone who'd never read the book this movie would come across as a less-sacharine-than-usual Hallmark movie with stronger acting. Joanne Woodward was a great choice for the Maggie character and it's also a pleasure to see James Garner in a leading role as her not-quite-henpecked husband. Most viewers would probably find the subject matter to be just a series of vignettes about a couple going through late middle age.
However, huge liberties were taken with the story to shoehorn it into a 90-minute Hallmark format. Without giving too much away for anyone interested in reading the wonderful book, it has way more scope and follows an arc lasting months instead of just chronicling a couple of days in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Moran.
The significance of "Breathing Lessons" becomes a throwaway line from Fiona, when in the book it's way more relevant and standout. Of course, if the movie had truly followed the book all the way it would have been a mini-series and not just a Hallmark movie. Still, it's enjoyable and heartwarming and does manage to pull together a nifty little ending.
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