Some sole-searching “In Her Shoes”
To call “In Her Shoes” a chick flick would be doing a huge disservice to a film that is more about relationships than it is about women. And such a definition would likely persuade most men to avoid a film they need to see. After all, with the testosterone-infused Pacino-McConaughey sports betting film, “Two for the Money,” the heartwarming golf biopic, “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” and the campy sci-fi thriller, “Serenity ” all in theaters right now, a hunky guy would risk some chuckles to wait in line for a film to which Oprah is likely to dedicate an entire week. (I know of the ignominy of which I speak.)
So it may take some clever tactics from women who want to take a guy to see a film about two polar opposite sisters, Rose (Toni Collette) and Maggie ( Cameron Diaz), who sever their relationship only to reunite after some soul searching and the contact of a grandmother (Shirley Maclaine) they never knew they had.
Tip number one: Tell your man the nubile Diaz spends a good part of the film wearing next to nothing. Maggie is a promiscuous, sleazy slob who can’t keep a job. As the film begins she’s vomiting in a toilet at her 10-year high school reunion, after having attempted copulation in an adjoining stall. We don’t like her character, but we know her kind.
We also know people like her overachieving older sibling Rose– the bookish, self-image-challenged, responsible lawyer who often comes to Maggie’s rescue. Rose finally hits the wall when she walks in on her boss (and would-be boyfriend) and Maggie doing what comes naturally to consenting, capricious, adults.
When the sisters make their split, it’s painful because, as with many siblings, the caustic nature of their relationship underscores their intimate bond. Rose and Maggie move on in two distinct directions. Rose quits the firm and walks dogs while striking up a new relationship with a younger, decent– almost too decent– lawyer (Mark Feurstein) who has admired her from afar.
Maggie’s is the more interesting journey. She escapes to a retirement community in Florida and meets her grandmother Ella (played with graceful restraint by Shirley MacLaine). You can imagine how Maggie raises the frosty eyebrows of her shuffleboard buddies when she sunbathes. Though the film has its humorous moments, the film impresses as it deftly explores the catharsis of each sister’s experience. Maggie discovers some self-confidence as she battles dyslexia reading to a blind professor (Norman Lloyd), and while connecting with Ella’s no-nonsense wisdom.
Colette (“The Sixth Sense”) gives Rose’s control freak real depth and provokes empathy in a character that could easily be misunderstood. She may get the buzz come Oscar time, but Diaz’ performance is just as uncanny and MacLaine makes the difficult look easy.
But the real winners are novel writer Jennifer Weiner and screenwriter Susannah Grant. They have written a film with the power to transform.
That goes for sisters and brothers alike.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material and some sexual content.