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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.33%
Worth A Look73.47%
Average: 8.16%
Pretty Bad: 2.04%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 19 user ratings

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In Her Shoes
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by EricDSnider

"This is a chick flick, but I'm a guy, and I liked it. What's up with that?"
4 stars

When we first meet the Feller sisters of "In Her Shoes," Rose is embarrassed to be wearing boring cotton underpants during one of her very rare intimate encounters with a man, while Maggie is having drunken sex with a stranger in a bathroom stall at her 10-year high school reunion.

This is not a scene of American family life that Norman Rockwell would have painted, but Curtis Hanson -- director of "Wonder Boys," "8 Mile" and now this -- paints it remarkably well. Working from a script by Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"), adapted from Jennifer Weiner's novel, Hanson has made a quiet movie, funny but not wacky or garish, and with serious feelings beneath it.

The first act puts the two sisters together. Rose (Toni Collette) is a depressed lawyer with barely a hint of a social life, recently advanced upon by a fellow attorney (Richard Burgi), but we all know how inter-office things usually go. Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is a party girl, the black sheep of the family, unable (or unwilling) to hold a job, big on alcohol and petty theft and a serious fan of casual sex. Kicked out of her father's house by her stepmom (Candice Azzara), Maggie crashes at Rose's place, an Odd Couple situation fraught with the utmost peril.

Rose has long resented Maggie's wanton ways, while Maggie insists anyone who questions her behavior needs to lighten up. Maggie wears Rose's shoes and brings home a dog to live in the apartment. Bad enough Rose's social and professional lives are unraveling without Maggie there to make things worse.

Act two separates them. All these years they believed their maternal grandmother was dead, just like their mother, but then Maggie learns otherwise and heads to Miami to meet/mooch off the old gal. She is Ella (Shirley MacLaine), an active senior in a retirement community who is delighted, albeit guardedly, to have contact from one of her granddaughters after so many years of exile by her son-in-law (Ken Howard).

Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, Rose has taken a leave of absence from the law firm. The stress of losing her lover, her sister and her dignity all at once was too much, and now she has settled into a simple little existence walking dogs for a living. She runs into a lawyer from her firm, Simon (Mark Feuerstein), and they begin to date. He is perfect for her; the only question is whether she is too screwed up for him.

In act three, Rose and Maggie are reunited, Rose meets Ella, and a succession of healing of decades-old rifts begins: between Rose and Maggie, between Ella and the girls' father, between the girls and their long-dead mother.

The movie can be deconstructed easily and stripped down to its basic elements -- it's rather obvious how Maggie and Rose wind up switching places ("In Her Shoes," anyone?), and the last several scenes, yes, seem like nothing more than a series of reconciliations. But credit Hanson and the actresses for avoiding maudlin tears and melodramatic outbursts. Collette's forte is plain, emotionally damaged women (see "The Sixth Sense" and "About a Boy") with Rose as no exception, and Diaz has rarely portrayed a human -- an actual learning, growing human -- so well.

Does it push your buttons? Maybe a little. But mostly it feels genuine. It's funny in a serious way and serious in a funny way, and it has an emotional truth to it. I think it will ring true, at least some aspect of it, for nearly everyone who sees it.

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originally posted: 10/07/05 18:45:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/29/10 Luisa Touching yet funny movie, love it! 4 stars
1/15/09 Anonymous. a happy, heartwarming film. :D 4 stars
3/12/07 Riki Still not sure about Diaz, but loved the rest 4 stars
3/07/07 Stanley Thai Not a chick flick that is very good. 5 stars
9/01/06 Carol Baker another chick flick Shirly Macclaine is in 3 stars
8/28/06 anthonyuk a nice heart warming film 4 stars
5/08/06 Diane Perkins didn't care for this movie, long and boring. Cameran Diaz not very likeable 2 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz Nice film, but rather forgettable. 4 stars
12/07/05 Cedric OMG, near-bare glimpse of Cameron's kaka-kissers almost made me fancy her pupu good to eat! 4 stars
11/24/05 noops a nice simple story of love b/w 2 sisters 4 stars
10/24/05 Maalstrom A fullfilling sisterhood drama with some decent laughs 4 stars
10/19/05 Kurt its so seldom we laugh..this is one make you laugh and you walk out smiling... 5 stars
10/15/05 Suzz good film; elevates the genre 4 stars
10/14/05 Julie Wenders many genuine moments here and some of them are lingering to promote an active tear duct! 4 stars
10/12/05 rebecca it ok but could be a bit more better 3 stars
10/12/05 Josh Swanson Good movie, worth seeing, but the director has made better movies, just in different genres 4 stars
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  07-Oct-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 31-Jan-2006



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