39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
After all the hype and comparisons to 'Steel Magnolias', 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood', sadly, did not do much box office, which was a shame, as it is a more intimate, realistic vision of women and life-long friendships than the glossier 'Magnolias'.
Four girl friends in Louisiana create a secret sisterhood in 1937, swearing eternal devotion to each other, and they remain best friends through all the triumphs and tragedies in their lives. When the daughter of one of them (Sandra Bullock), a successful playright, has an interview with Time magazine in which she blasts her mother's impact on her life, the mother (Ellen Burstyn, who is superb!) goes ballistic, cutting the daughter out of her life, totally. Into this maelstrom charges the other members of the Sisterhood, kidnapping Bullock, and attempting to make things right!
The film then jumps back and forth in time, with Ashley Judd (who gives an Oscar-worthy performance) playing the younger Burstyn. She has a lot of happy adventures with her Ya-Ya sisters, but also has to deal with racism, a jealous religious zealot of a mother, an overly loving father (David Rasche, breaking free of his usual comic roles), a true love who dies in WWII, and a family with a guy she 'settles' for (played, in present day, by the wonderful James Garner). There is also a dark secret that is the core of the mother/daughter alienation, which must be dealt with in order for the rift between Bullock and Burstyn to heal (No, I will NOT give it away!)
If you do the math about the years covered, you realize the present-day story SHOULD be taking place in the early nineties, at the latest, but this doesn't hurt the overall effectiveness of the picture. As the other present-day sisters, Fionnula Flanagan, Shirley Knight, and (especially) Maggie Smith are WONDERFUL, as is Angus MacFadyen, as Bullock's sympathetic and likable fiance.
While this is unabashedly a 'chick flick', something I really liked was that they DIDN'T fall back on that old chestnut of somebody dying to serve as a convenient catalyst for change and the healing process. And the dialog is full of wickedly hilarious one-liners about men, alcohol, friendship, and growing old!
Don't miss this gem!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2005
Sandra Bullock is so funny,spunky,and a talented actress.This is my favorite movie of hers.I've seen all her movies.In each she is bubbly and fun-loving and cool.She's a great role model for young girls.I liked 'Miss Congenaitly'and 'Hope Floats.' I'm a 15-year-old girl who adores her.She's my favorite actress and celebrity and she's always making great movies.I loved this movie.It's about a playwright in New York City named Sidda Walker who has a torn realionship with her flaky mother,who gave her a tough upbringing in Lousiana.Sidda tells 'Time' magazine about her unhappy childhood and eccentric mother, causing Vivi Walker to swear she'll never speak her daughter again.However,after her long-time friends the Ya-Yas step in to show Sidda the story behind it all,both learn more about each other and themselves.Ashley Judd plays Vivi as a young woman and in flashbacks it shows Sidda as a little girl,growing up in the South where she both remembers the hard times when her mom's "drunken rages" hurt her and also the good times,when her mom made sure she got to go on a plane ride that she was scared to go on at first but in the end it was her best memory of her mother when Sidda sees in the end her mama really did love her.Sandra Bullock plays Sidda well,and is funny and emotional at the same time.Also Ashley Judd plays Vivi in her teen years,and it shows how by the friendship of her long-time friends that she made it through all it.The Ya-Ya's close bond shows how friendship really can help you through tough times and good times.The main value in this dramatic comedy is that your friends will always be there for you in the end and how your parents may not be perfect,but they always care about you in the end,too.The Ya-Yas are really funny,too.I loved this movie and I liked the book,too.Sandra Bullock is the best actress and role model on the face of the planet and she rocks.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2007
I avoided this movie for a long time because it was sold as a feel good mother-daughter movie. I was pleasantly surprised, and crying my eyes out, when I discovered that it was a dramatic look at how mothers can screw up their daughters. If you have a mother who you blame for your unhappiness, watch this movie and get a better understanding of how someone screwed up her life. Also, the Ya-Yas are some kind of Southern coven with altars and incantations.
42 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2002
I was fortunate enough to see this movie at an early premiere. From the moment the movie began it was true to the incredible spirit, integrity and vitality of the novel. There are some changes of course, (using a plane instead of an elephant for Lawanda), but not only does it work, this is by far the best book to movie adaptation I've ever seen. I've always been bitterly disappointed by the movie version of powerful books, but "Divine Secrets" has broken that mold. There is never a dull moment, slow script or moment that doesn't shine. My only criticism was the rather dispassionate way Sidda (Sandra Bullock) responded to Vivi (Ellen Burnstyn) at the very end of the movie. But whether you're a ya-ya or simply looking for a phenomenal story to sit down to, this movie is so layered with intensity you'd have to be dead to miss it. Don't let the label "chick flick" mislead you, it's much more than that. Ashley Judd has never made a movie before this as far as I'm concerned, but it was the actresses that played the older ya-ya's that completely stole the show! I'm counting the days till the DVD release! YA-YA!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2002
"Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" is one of my favorite books, so I was really excited when I found out they were making a movie. The movie is very good... I went to see it with my own Ya-Yas, which was fun. I'm sure I would have loved it if I hadn't already read the book three or four times, but probably no movie would have measured up to my opinion of the book. It always annoys me when parts of a great book are left out of the movie, and this movie leaves a LOT out (if you've read the book, Pooty Pootwell and Vivi's experience at the convent school are left out, among a lot of other significant things.) But I guess if they'd tried to include every detail in the book, it would have been four or five hours long! Also, I love Maggie Smith and Fionnula Flanagan's characters... they're hysterical and steal the movie. But their Southern accents could have used some work! Ellen Burstyn is wonderful though. All in all, the movie is a must see for women everywhere, not just from the south!
If you haven't yet read the books, my advice is to read "Divine Secrets" first. "Little Altars Everywhere" was written first, but there are some really disturbing parts of that book that might turn you off to the whole thing. Enjoy!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2002
Ever have a bunch of gripes about a movie yet you can't deny you had a good time watching parts of it? Ya-Ya Sisterhood is one of them, for me. Im gonna take a guess here and assume this is one of those too-rich-to-get-on-the-screen novels-we are introduced to the little Ya-Yas in childhood, but we have no idea why their bond was so special, how the whole mythology came about.However, Ellen Burstyn and Fionnula Flanagan et al. are so much fun to watch as they play their roles, you get over the short introductions. Sandra Bullock plays a neurotic, marriage shy writer who has spilled all the family skeletons out of the closet in her new play. Her mother, a deeply emotionally scarred woman and seeming Southern shrew,finds out, and begins to torment Bullock in a rage by mail and phone. Bullock is about to give up on her relationship with her mother when her mothers' childhood friends intervene, and slowly reveal the truth behind her mother's anger. Sounds black, but its all done with genuine heart and lots of humor. The flashback style can get hard to follow, and it'll take a while to find out who everyone is, but this guy liked it in spite of its disjointed composition.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is a film about mother/daughter relationships and about unconditional love. Despite being marked by fine performances, the film never really grabs the viewer, at least, not this viewer. While moderately enjoyable, I found the film to fall a little flat, as the whole Ya-Ya thing left me cold, finding it all a bit silly.
Not having read the book of the same name upon which the film is based, I had no frame of reference. Judging strictly on the merits of the film, I found that it has its ups and downs. The name of the film is apparently derived from a childhood club to which a group of lifelong friends belonged as children in which they were all Ya-Ya priestesses. These friends, of which Vivi (Ellyn Burstyn) is at the center of this story, are all trying to reconcile Vivi to her daughter Sidda (Sandra Bullock). The friends, as well as Vivi, are all aging southern belles from Louisiana. Sidda, however, has moved North, where she is a budding, successful playwright.
Sidda had a traumatic childhood, as her mother is a mercurial woman with a drinking problem. It seems that Vivi never got over losing her childhood sweetheart during the war. She married another man, Shep Walker (James Garner), Sidda's father and a man who has loved Vivi unconditionally throughout their entire married life, and proceeded to put her husband and their children through a living hell. Still, Vivi and Sidda manage to plod along as so many mothers and daughters do, until Vivi goes too far and Sidda decides that enough is enough.
The story of Vivi, Sidda, and Shep is told in flashbacks, which provide the most interesting parts of the movie. Ashley Judd is simply sensational as the young Vivi, and she outshines all the film and stage veterans in this film, infusing the role with a gritty reality. David Lee Smith is very good as the hunky young Shep, the husband who tries to understand a mercurial wife who has become unbalanced by her longing for what could never be.
Ellen Burstyn as the senior Vivi is not as compelling as the younger one portrayed by Ashley Judd. The senior Vivi comes across as a silly, petulant, spoiled, self-absorbed woman who needs a good swift kick in the butt. Consequently, the viewer cares very little for what happens to her, even though she is eventually reconciled to her daughter and comes to appreciate her patient, selfless husband.
Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan, and Shirley Knight are all very good as Vivi's lifelong friends, though Ms. Smith occasionally seems to have a bit of difficulty suppressing her British accent. They inject a touch of humor into their attempts to reconcile the estranged Vivi and Sidda, which is a good counterpoint to the underlying pathos of the film. Sandra Bullock is also excellent as the fed up Sidda, who has said that enough is enough. As in all her film, she charms the viewer. James Garner is wonderful as Vivi's long suffering husband, who comes to be appreciated by Vivi only at the end.
Unfortunately, the director appears to have striven for mawkishness. Consequently, the ending of this film is enough to make one gag, as Sidda is inducted into the Ya-Ya sisterhood. This alone is enough for me to counsel viewers to rent, and not buy, this film.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2002
The cinematography is beautiful. The acting is mostly superlative. The period clothes are impeccable. But it just doesn't work. The emphasis of the story has been moved from the YaYas to daughter SiddaLee. (I well understand that if you hire Sandra Bullock as Sidda, you'd best be thinking of more than an occasional narrator.)
This is the story of a spirited, deeply flawed woman and her painful, oftentimes hilarious relationship with her husband, friends and most of all, her very vulnerable grown daughter. The setting is small town Louisiana and the Deep South flavor is almost palpable.
I believe I am as willing to suspend belief as the next moviegoer, but I will admit I was sorely tried. The leap that must be taken to be convinced that Ashley Judd ages into Ellen Berstyn is too much for me. Not only is there no physical resemblance between the two, their acting, gestures and styles are poles apart. Both Judd and Berstyn turned in good performances, but not of the same woman. The same goes for young Sidda, Alison Bertolino and Sandra Bullock. This little girl could never turn into Sandra Bullock!
The trio who carried off southern accents was James Garner and Ashley Judd, who were born to it, and very British Maggie Smith, who emphatically was not. The rest needed serious coaching. The supporting roles of husband Shep (James Garner), and the three other YaYas, Maggie Smith, Shirley Knight and Fionula Flanagan seriously needed expansion and explanations which were not given. Less time given to the present, and more to the past would make the lives and characters more explicable.
The book had a connectedness, intensity and wild hilarity that I missed in the film. The upside of strong acting and gorgeous photography make the YaYa Sisterhood, if not "Divine," at least a pleasant outing.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2002
(not that there's anything wrong with that)
.....but guys, if you want a hint into the strange world of women's friendships, watch this with your loved one and listen to stories of her own lost youth. You will learn answers to many of the mysteries of women and the world we inhabit (if only in dreams.).
Imagine Charo, coochie-cooing the words YA YA! and you'll have an idea of the true meaning and fun of this movie. I will admit, I found it best to have a little knowledge of the book. But don't read the book. Listen to it. The (UNEDITED) audio version of this fine novel really gives life to the words and one can really appreciate the enunciation of the most important words about this group of life-long friends. YaYa! (See my review of the audio tape on Amazon.com under "ISBN: 0060094818" and find out exactly what Charo REALLY has to do with this film.)
Rebecca Wells wrote an earlier book based on similar characters and ideas, but the mother was not as likeable nor excusable. She hit the "motherlode" (pardon the pun!) when she penned "The Divine Secrets..." I would love to have these quirky women as caricatures in my life. What a gift to have this kind of lifelong communication and keepers of secrets (even though they all may need a good month at the dreaded "Betty.")
Hell, therapy would ruin their antics of these bigger than life characters. I love the southern charm of this story and yes, Steel Magnolias comes to mind. But nothing comes close to this bond, and the film is cast perfectly--unfortunately leaving no room for Shirley MacLaine's character. She couldn't do better than her role in "Magnolias," no matter how far south the story may be set.
In a series of stories from an amazing scrapbook (hurrah for the prop team -- the book appeared just as I imagined!) Siddha learns about her mother's past and the reason they both slam the phone against the counter when they finally answer each others' calls. The men in this movie are important characters, but are side men to the women's antics and the amazing charm these great Ya Yas have over all who meet them.
The screenplay does the best job possible while cutting out a few characters to keep the story flowing. No elephant available, but what a great view of the world the Ya Yas inhabit! Siddha gets a return visit to the good memories while listening to the answers that mother would never had given her.... this is what the sisterhood is all about. She finds the wonder of being mothered by four deliciously free and feisty women.
I wish all women could have the type of friendships these women found and hope that all daughters can find the love and support from such an open, wonderous group. I gave this to my best friend, announcing to her that she was on my YA YA list. I only hope that, after seeing this movie, you will begin the search for those lost YaYa sisters from your own past to find the joy, memories, and love this film exudes.
All in all -- what fun, tragedy, enlightenment, discovery and ghosts come out of a simple event: Siddha's interview with a Time magazine writer looking for an edge to interview this up and coming playwrite.
A long summer night: friends, family, entoxicating hints of shrimp gumbo, live cajun music, the scent of gardenias keep the viewer inside the world of Ya Ya! While we feel our bare toes (painted with bright red polish, of course) squishing between blades of the wonderous cushion of green green grass; we leave as an honorary member of the Divine Secret Sisiterhood of that summer of the eternal Ya Ya . There are five ***** in this movie!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2004
This movie doesn't seem to have a very good rating on Amazon. I have no earthly idea why. It will go down in history as one of the great Southern classics as far as I'm concerned. In my opinion, it is the "Steel Magnolias" of the new millineum. It has wit, charm, drama, and amazingly funny dialogue. It will make you laugh, cry, and just feel warm all over. The story of a troubled childhood in which nothing was really understood, a southern belle watching her youth slip away, and all the criss-crossing heartstrings or friends, family, and lovers. If you read the book, I feel the movie does a much better job of conveying the story. In short, this film was fabulous!