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College poetry professor and poet Rebecca Trager Lott's husband Ben Lott has just died in a freak accident. Rebecca's support during this difficult time consists of her best friend Sylvie Morrow, her sister Lucy Trager, and her ex-stepmother Alberta Trager. Earth mother Sylvie is dealing with what she sees as the probable end of her own marriage to her husband Paul Morrow. Chain smoking Lucy is a directionless and insecure woman who is still mourning their mother's death fourteen years earlier from cancer. And Wall Street executive Alberta, who Lucy in particular doesn't like in her life (especially as Alberta and their father have since divorced) is a domineering but admittedly efficient woman who treats her personal life as an extension of her professional life. As time progresses and each woman deals with her own issues while trying to help Rebecca, a hunky house painter who they have nicknamed "Valentino" enters their collective lives. "Valentino" profoundly affects each of their ...Written by
I saw this film shortly before watching In Her Shoes with Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz. There are a lot of similarities between the two films. They both have great casts and good acting. They both have stock characters of sisters who are very different, an offensive stepmother, a woman friend/confidant, an emotionally unavailable father, a dead mother and a surprise lover. Both films have the characters experience life-changing realizations and both films suffer from a kind of 'love conquers all' sentimentality. They both add a little titillation with Cameron Diaz in black underwear and a partial back shot of Gwyneth Paltrow naked.
Both films seem contrived, as if the writers of the works the films are based on did market research and said, "Ok, there's a market for stories about relationships between women, so I'm going to write about two sisters with an offensive stepmother " In other words, instead of the drama emerging from the truth of the relationship, the relationship is invented to fit the dramatic situation. It seems forced, the characters don't seem real, the relationships are unbelievable.
The resolution of the tensions between the characters is simplistic with simple apologies completely whisking away years of acrimony leaving everyone feeling warm and fuzzy ever after. It's just not real. Romantic fantasy.
The characters in In Her Shoes are a little more overblown than Moonlight & Valentino, especially the stepmother part. Sydelle Feller, in In Her Shoes is so evil that it is difficult to believe that the father would stay with her, or even marry her in the first place. Kathleen Turner at least shows some emotional vulnerability as the stepmother in Moonlight & Valentino.
If you liked Moonlight & Valentino you will probably like In Her Shoes as well. Enjoyable performances in both, in fact, the actors bring depth to their parts that goes way beyond the contrived sentimentality of the scripts.
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