Monday 2 August 2021

Movie Review: Georgia Rule (2007)

A drama with some humour about three generations of women, Georgia Rule creates a good ambience in exploring cascading emotional damage, but mishits some key notes. 

Wealthy Californian Lily Wilcox (Felicity Huffman) has just about had enough of her troublesome teenaged daughter Rachel (Lindsay Lohan), and as a last resort sends her to spend the summer before college with Lily's mom (and Rachel's grandma) Georgia (Jane Fonda) in small town, Idaho. Georgia runs her life according to strict rules, which had caused Lily to resort to alcohol and flee her childhood home at the earliest opportunity. 

Now the rebellious Rachel delights in finding ways to break her grandma's rules, although she does accept a summer job at the office of veterinarian Simon Ward (Dermot Mulroney), a widower who once was Lily's serious boyfriend. Rachel will attempt to seduce any man, and sets her flirtatious eyes on the town's hunky Harlan (Garrett Hedlund), although he already has a girlfriend. But when Rachel suggest to both Simon and Georgia that she was a victim of sexual abuse by her stepdad Arnold (Carey Elwes), the summer takes a serious turn.

Written by Mark Andrus and directed by Garry Marshall, Georgia Rule benefits from the dynamic of three women coping with various degrees of damage caused by missteps and unmet expectations passed on over the decades. With grandma Georgia enjoying the home field advantage of a quaint small town setting, Marshal mixes pathos, emotional scars and inter-generational conflicts to good effect.

The first two thirds maintain a high engagement level. Rachel as a mouthy fish caught in a backwater rocks the town, with Lindsay Lohan revelling in an attitude of unfettered rebelliousness to agitate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. In contrast Fonda's Georgia is suitably subdued, satisfied with imposing her rules and letting the world revolve around them as it may. Huffman's Lily is caught in the middle between insufferable mother and uncontrollable daughter, and her exasperation is about to turn to disbelief with Rachel's revelations about sexual abuse.

Here Andrus and Marshall lose some control, the final act revolving around a series of lies and counter-lies, the truth lost in a flurry of accusations and denials. While the turmoil is consistent with Rachel's personality and Lily's determination to willfully ignore discord, the focus settles on a search for honesty, the crime of child molestation somehow confined to the narrative backseat but still clashing with the dramedy structure.

Despite overextending towards topics incompatible with the intended bittersweet tones, the refreshingly imperfect women of Georgia Rule do bloom by challenging the norms.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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