Monday 18 July 2022

Movie Review: In Her Shoes (2005)

A sibling drama with hints of romance and humour, In Her Shoes overcomes some obvious plotting with textured storytelling and excellent performances. 

In Philadelphia, Rose and Maggie (Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz) are two sisters with very different personalities. When they were young, they lost their mom Caroline to suicide and were raised by their dad Michael (Ken Howard). Now Rose is a responsible adult and on a career path as a lawyer. Maggie never settled down, cannot hold a job, and relies on her looks to attract a succession of meaningless relationships. 

The sisters have a serious bust-up after Maggie ruins Rose's latest relationship. Rose reassesses her priorities, becomes a dog walker, and explores a romance with former office colleague Simon (Mark Feuerstein). Maggie packs up and relocates to Florida, where she reconnects with her grandmother Ella (Shirley MacLaine), Caroline's mother. Ella lost touch with her granddaughters after Caroline's death, in part because of a dispute with Michael. Ella, Maggie, and Rose have to come to terms with the past as they try to forge new bonds.

Directed by Curtis Hanson and written by Susannah Grant (adapting Jennifer Weiner's novel), In Her Shoes is a heartwarming family mosaic. With good production values, plenty of supporting characters providing colour, and a steady stream of revelations, the 130 minutes easily breeze by. Some of the ups and downs experienced by sisters Rose and Maggie are familiar for sure, and the drive towards tidy resolutions borders on predictable, but the film does put in the work through sustained conflicts to earn the more sentimental moments.

While the opening act initially hints at a flighty story, In Her Shoes quickly gains heft with sure-footed ventures into difficult topics. Caroline is only seen in photos, but her mental illness and suicide defined her daughters' childhoods, and the consequences resonate into their adulthood. Ella and Michael's contrasting attitudes towards Caroline's condition add a thony layer of complexity, while Maggie also has a reading disability stunting her ability to thrive. Hanson treats the mental health challenges with pragmatism, avoiding sappiness and allowing Rose and Maggie to come to terms with realities at their own pace.

In Her Shoes gains momentum as the characters make conscious - and internally logical - decisions to alter their trajectories. Difficult choices require somber acting, and the three leads deliver. Cameron Diaz in particular impresses, covering a wide range from shiftless to determined. Toni Collette provides an anchor as the more responsible sister but with her own emotional limits, while Shirley MacLaine delivers a restrained performance grounded in Ella's past regrets but also confidence in her ability to exert influence.

Several men ranging from dubious to promising orbit the three women, including a welcome appearance by Norman Lloyd as an elderly hospital patient who interacts with Maggie. Rose's ex-coworker Simon is more than a throwaway love interest, and demonstrates the effort required to prod Rose into genuinely believing she deserves a good partner rather than just another pair of shoes.

In Her Shoes features closets full of footwear, but is also stocked full of substance.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.