Postcards From The Edge Review

Carrie Fisher had everything. She was daughter to actor Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, and was the lead female character Princess Leia in the mega franchise that was Star Wars, and yet her life was riddled with insecurity and battles with drug addiction. Postcards From The Edge is a fictionalised account of Fisher's darker days, and was adapted by Fisher herself from her own best-selling novel.

Actress Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep) is having a troubled time on her latest film, the cast and crew are aware of her drug problems, and the director Lowell Korshack (Gene Hackman) is angry that Suzanne's problems will jeopardise the film. Shortly after, Suzanne overdoses on some pills, and checks into rehab. In order to find insurance for her next movie role, the producers insist that Suzanne stay with a responsible adult during her work on the film. So she reluctantly moves back into the home of her movie-star mother Doris Mann (Shirley MacLaine), which sparks off many confrontational issues that have been unresolved for years amongst the pair.

Postcards From The Edge is an interesting comedy that effectively and successfully de-glamourises any pre-conceived notions of the Hollywood celebrity scene. The film's synopsis suggests that the story might focus on a bleak, grim storyline, and yet the film is far removed from any sort of depressing depiction. At times, the script is so funny and the acting so confident that Postcards From The Edge feels firmly routed into the comedy genre. Yet there is still ultimately a slight hint of sadness amongst proceedings, as if deeper within the core of the film lies a more interesting tale screaming to be released.

The film mostly steers away from tackling the subject of a celebrity's dependency on drugs, and seems more content to deal with the subject of the inter-relationship between a celebrity mother and daughter. In a way, this is a more interesting and original subject, as it portrays Suzanne and Doris as clashing celebrity egos on the one hand and a loving mother and daughter torn by frenzied events on the other. It's as if both Suzanne and Doris are unable to relate to an existence that isn't played out in a publicity-fuelled minefield, and Suzanne's drug-dependency is a convenient way to escape the reality of the situation. Doris' behaviour is splintered, as her own alcoholism clouds the inner-battle of a caring mother and a fading actress scared to be upstaged by her own daughter. Fisher admits that many of the sequences involving Suzanne and her mother were fictional ones added to give the film extra juice, and this was a risky move considering the frequent and inadvertent comparisons audiences make with Fisher and the character of Suzanne.

Postcards From The Edge is directed by Mike Nichols, who won an Oscar for The Graduate and also directed the mad cap Catch-22, and yet Nichols takes a backseat in terms of his auteur craft, and mechanically directs Fisher's script as if on autopilot. Streep and Maclaine give excellent performances, and their chemistry on-screen is a winning formula from the start, even if it is very hard to imagine Streep and Carrie Fisher ever having much in common. The cast is backed with some fine supporting turns, such as Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Rob Reiner, Richard Dreyfuss, Annette Bening and Simon Callow.

Whilst an entertaining and highly amusing satire of Hollywood celebrities, Postcards From The Edge still cops out in its all-too-positive approach to the subject matter, especially the unnecessary final sequence which seems a studio-enforced 'happy-ending' as opposed to a natural conclusion. That said, the fact that Fisher could go on to pen her autobiography and turn it into a feature film is a happy ending in itself, and makes Postcards From The Edge all the more worthy when deciding upon a film to watch.

Academy Awards 1990

Academy Award Nominations 1990
Best Actress - Meryl Streep
Best Song - "I'm Checkin' Out" - Shel Silverstein

Presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1, the transfer for Postcards From The Edge is slightly soft focus in tone and exhibits dated colourings that are duller than necessary. Grain and artefacts are kept to a minimum, and the presentation is very watchable on the whole.

Presented in Dolby Surround, the sound mix is mostly mono in terms of dialogue but does feature a few surround elements in terms of background noise and the musical score. The volume level is set at an acceptable standard and most events are presented in the fullest fashion.

Menu: A silent, static menu consisting of a few promotional stills from the film.

Packaging: Presented in an amaray casing with the usual Columbia Tristar template, and featuring a six page fold out booklet that contains brief production notes and chapter listings.


Audio Commentary By Carrie Fisher: This is an excellent companion piece to the film, as Fisher is very funny and very informative about both her life and her exploits in writing Postcards From The Edge. For a change, this commentary works better without any extra company, as Fisher is more than adept at holding her own with a microphone, and is probably more open to honest admissions without the overbearing presence of a companion on the track.

Filmographies: Brief biographies and selected filmographies of the major cast and crew members.

Trailers: Trailers for As Good As It Gets, Jerry Maguire, My Best Friend's Wedding and Kramer vs. Kramer but annoyingly not for Postcards From The Edge


An enjoyable and occasionally witty insight into the Hollywood drug-fuelled celebrity scene is given a decent commentary that will please fans of both Carrie Fisher and the film itself. Postcards From The Edge is probably a film worth renting only, but it's a decent package if purchased at the right price.

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