In Her Shoes Review

Sisters Rose and Maggie Feller couldn't have less in common. Rose (Toni Collette) is a hard-working Philadelphia lawyer with no personal life to speak of. Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is a carefree party animal who lives for fun and survives by sponging off her friends and family. She's been sponging off Rose for a while but that comes to an end when her selfish behaviour crosses a line and Rose throws her out. Fortunately, Maggie has recently discovered that her maternal grandmother, long thought dead, is in fact alive and living in a Florida retirement community.

Ella (Shirley MacLaine) is taken aback by her granddaughter's sudden appearance. She'd thought her daughter's girls had forgotten her. She invites Maggie to stay, unaware that the young woman is only looking for a place to crash and someone new to mooch off. However, Ella learns fast and Maggie finds that her grandmother and her fellow residents are a lot smarter (and wiser) than she gives them credit for. Back in Philadelphia, Rose is forced to examine her own life, ask herself whether she's happy working around the clock with little reward and maybe even respond to the timid advances of a male admirer.

Director Curtis Hanson certainly can't be accused of being predictable in his choices of projects. His last five films have been The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (psychological thriller), The River Wild (outdoor adventure), LA Confidential (period detective thriller), Wonder Boys (male midlife crisis comedy) and 8 Mile (hip hop drama). Now here he is with In Her Shoes, a heartwarming comedy-drama about sisterhood with a mostly female cast.

Yes, predominantly male readers of the DVD Times, this is a chick movie and a hardcore one at that with crying and hugging and female bonding going on all over the place. Should you see it? It depends on your tolerance for the genre. It's a good example of what it is, thanks to Hanson's subtle direction, a solid script by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and three terrific actresses in the lead roles. If you enjoy films like this, it does its job satisfyingly enough. If you don't and you're dragged to it by your other half, at least it won't have you running, screaming back down the aisle like Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood did. Cameron Diaz's wardrobe alone will make this bearable for a lot of guys.

However, In her Shoes doesn't transcend its roots. This isn't Terms Of Endearment or When Harry Met Sally... Although Curtis Hanson and Susannah Grant have done what they can to spice up the story with humour and obscure the more obvious plot points, the basic formula is unavoidably predictable. From the opening two paragraphs in which I described the set-up, you can easily guess how the characters develop and how it all ends up. Another problem is overlength. Believe me, I'm getting as bored of writing that as you are of reading it but editing movies does seem in danger of becoming a lost art. There simply isn't two hours and ten minutes worth of material here. The prologue alone drags on for at least three quarters of an hour.

The acting is the movie's strongest asset. Cameron Diaz is as good as she's ever been, taking what could have been a walking bimbo cliché and turning her into a frustrating but sympathetic human being. Toni Collette, who is one of the best actresses working in films, is not exactly stretched - her part is the least colourful - but she does a fine job all the same. Shirley MacLaine is practically the patron saint of chick movies, having starred in Terms Of Endearment and Steel Magnolias, two of the best examples of the genre. She's dialled her quirky old bird act down a bit to make Ella one of her most affecting performances. All three leads are excellent, although it does still come as a bit of a surprise when you learn they're supposed to be Jewish.

Overall

7

out of 10

Last updated: 19/06/2018 02:24:07

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