19 user 5 critic

A Cooler Climate (1999)

Iris is broke after her divorce and takes a job working as a housekeeper for a wealthy woman named Paula. When Paula and her husband separate, an unlikely friendship blossoms between the women.


Susan Seidelman


Zena Collier (novel), Marsha Norman (teleplay)
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sally Field ... Iris
Judy Davis ... Paula
Winston Rekert Winston Rekert ... Jack
Jerry Wasserman ... Leo
Carly Pope ... Beth
Jessalyn Gilsig ... Callie
Gerard Plunkett ... Graham
Alec Willows ... Marcus
Denalda Williams Denalda Williams ... Yvonne
Peter Yunker Peter Yunker ... Oliver
Rick Ravanello ... Handsome Welder (as Rick Ravenello)
Tasha Simms ... Boutique Owner
Suzanne Ristic Suzanne Ristic ... Iris' Lawyer
Doug Abrahams ... Manager
Claire Riley Claire Riley ... Customs Lawyer
Learn more

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A woman travels to coastal Maine after her divorce to start a job as housekeeper for a bitter, wealthy woman. They do not hit if off, but no one will work for the rich woman, and Field has no skills and needs the job. They each get involved in the other's life and eventually learn to respect and even like one another. This is the story of the journey of two middle-aged women and how they learn to accept what life has to offer. Written by Ed Lorusso

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Envy. Fidelity. Outrage....the start of a beautiful friendship.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


When Iris goes to the beach to read and eventually takes a nap, the sun is in the same position when she awakes as it was when she first got there. See more »


Paula Tanner: What upsets me is the condition of your room!
See more »


Featured in The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2000) See more »

User Reviews

Maybe it's a woman's film. Maybe, but I wonder why.
26 December 2008 | by jeromec-2See all my reviews

I've read all the reviews of this film and wonder at some of them. I wonder why people think women's films are somehow exclusive to women, that men would not understand them. I wonder why others think a chick flick is somehow inferior to so called male films.

Women's films represent the most critical event in human relationships. We need to understand dreams, broken dreams, promises, broken promises, aspirations, reduced aspirations, truth between people, lies we tell, moral paths followed, moral paths abandoned, elation, depression, acceptance, rejection, power and pain. That's quite a list to get into about 90 minutes.

This film centers around 2 women who have endured a prickly relationship. Iris (Sally Field) divorced her husband after 26 years of marriage because she was bored with him and had an affair. The film makes clear that she made a mistake in not accepting 1/2 his net worth and alimony. Because she was "stupid", she took job housekeeping for a woman (Paula -- Judy Davis) who was brittle, unfeeling, arrogant, bossy and hopelessly unsympathetic to what Field might be going through (which included debt that would make most of us think of bankruptcy). Iris will endure almost anything except intrusion into her life.

That is the beginning of her introduction to the problems of humanity. Field cares enough about her to become angry and correct her (Paula). The film gently shifts as Iris declares her own needs. Iris begins to distance herself from Paula by developing outside interests, and in so doing strengthens herself to deal with Paula's collapse when her husband leaves her.

Paula must at last face herself, and what she sees is devastatingly destructive in its thoroughness. Her pain consumes her. Iris treats her with compassion, though Paula does not think so. She forces by constant nagging to get Paula out and their friendship such as it is, develops through anger to a deep honesty.

In the end, this film is about failure, about betrayed trust, about ignoring the reality of current circumstances, about getting up off the floor and breathing in and breathing out (as Tom Hanks said), about making the best of what is near us. It does not take divorce and pain to reach that conclusion. It takes only recognition of our own humanity.

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Release Date:

22 August 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adynamies See more »

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