Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Movie Review: In Her Shoes

This week is shaping up to be an excellent week for movies.

Having seen some trailers for this "chick flick" I really wasn't too excited about seeing it. However, Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette were both on Jonathan Ross's show this week promoting it and the chemistry they obviously share was enough to get me along to my local multiplex to check it out (and having an Unlimited card didn't hurt...).

All I can say is ignore the trailers and see this movie (after you've seen The Constant Gardener, of course). One word of warning though, girls, be prepared for your mascara to run...

"In her Shoes" focuses on the relationship between Maggie and Rose Feller, played by Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. Rose is the responsible older sister, slightly frumpy with a good job which has completely taken over her life. Maggie is the wild, carefree, younger sister, whose penchant for excess causes constant conflict between them, especially as Rose feels so protective towards her.

Like most "chick flicks" this is a love story, but its strength lies in the fact that it is not about romantic love, but the love between two sisters. Both Collette and Diaz get this relationship spot on and, personally, I feel that both should be sitting expectantly on Oscar night. Both characters are just so real and three dimensional, I really didn't realise that Cameron Diaz was capable of such good acting. She displays such vulnerability in her portrayal of Maggie's struggles with illiteracy that one forgets for a moment that she is better known for her ability to belch in public than her acting skills (although the former is, in my opinion, just as impressive as the later).

The supporting cast are just as excellent, and unsurprisingly the stand out performance from among them comes from Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine. She plays the girls' estranged grandmother, Ellen, who was shut out of their lives by their father after their mother's death.

One of the many things I loved about this movie was the fact that it's most emotional moment is not about who's sleeping with who, but it is about Maggie's discovery that her "best day ever," the most cherished memory from her childhood, is actually remembered as a terrible, painful day by the rest of her family. The events of her "best day" led directly to her mother's death, but she was too young at the time to know it, and Rose protected her from knowing at the time and has ever since. Maggie's emotional maturity has been stunted by her sister's desire to protect her from the pain that is shared by the rest of her family, and it is this that has set her on a course of self destructive behaviour.

Okay, all that sounds very deep, but the wonderful thing about this movie is that it is infused throughout with a subtle, gentle humour. Even the most loathsome person in the film, Rose's boss Jim (played by 24's Richard Burgi) is not so much an evil slimeball as just a plain old idiot.

Ultimately, this is not just another "chick flick," it's an excellent movie about two sisters, not learning to love each other, because they already do, but learning to live with each other. Possibly the biggest challenge that faces any siblings. You just can't help loving them no matter what they do.

rating: 9/10

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