Monday, November 14, 2005

IN HER SHOES – mis-marketed but remarkably good

IN HER SHOES is one of the most mis-marketed movies I have ever come across. The PR seems to imply that it is going to be your usual air-head chick flick. Cute girl falls for wrong guy but nice guy is waiting in the wings or variations thereupon. Some laughs, some tears, then we all go home and forget about it. And I suppose, that one plot strand of IN HER SHOES confirms to this pattern. However, there is a lot more to the film. Indeed, IN HER SHOES is a thoughtful and perceptive drama about family. It focuses on the relationship between two sisters. The elder, Rose, is a successful lawyer who has always perceived herself to be less attractive than her younger sister. The younger sister, Maggie, is a ditzy blonde who can’t hold down a job. Although Rose’ life work has been looking out for her sister, one day Maggie does something unforgivable leading to a huge rift and some serious self-examination for each of them. Rose is brought back to life by a wonderful man; Maggie by a shrewd grandmother.

The movie is directed by Curtis Hanson, the man who brought us L.A. Confidential and 8 Mile. Hanson is a director I really admire, but in retrospect. What I mean by that is that I don’t immediately recognise a film as one of his. There is no obvious visual style or thematic tic. However, he does seem to have a talent for taking apparently straightforward genre movies and making them seem fresh and credible. If you don’t believe me, compare the taught and compelling dramatic arc of 8 MILE with the ludicrous hagiography of GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN’. Hanson manages to work that magic again with IN HER SHOES. He keeps all the insights of the novel and brings them to the screen at a pace wherein the transformation of the central characters seems neither forced nor unrealistic. He brings a lightness of touch to some very profound and difficult subject matter – mental illness, learning difficulties, sexual politics in the workplace – ultimately reconciliation with oneself and one’s family. In this endeavour, we have to thank the screenwriter but especially three very strong central performances from Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz and
Shirley Maclaine. I have to say here, that I reject the criticism from some viewers that Toni Collette is too pretty to play Rose. I agree that Toni is very attractive but the point is that she is also, to my mind, highly successful in portraying someone who perceives themselves as being unattractive.

So, I strongly recommend IN HER SHOES to all of you, especially the girls. But this isn’t a disposable chick flick or date movie: it is a well-crafted drama and deserves respect as such.

IN HER SHOES is on release in the US, Germany, Austria and the UK and hits France next week.

1 comment:

  1. i cannot bliv this.i did not enjoy the film AT ALL-i know some cynics mite say its cos' i'm not a girl,but hey i've enjoyed few chick flicks before.bina.the film was awful.beyond awful.god-awful.putrid.