on October 8, 2005
Not far into "In Her Shoes," Rose, played by Toni Collette, tells her sister, "You ruin everything!"
She's right, too.
Maggie, played by Cameron Diaz, is a party girl pushing 30 who's unemployed but works full time making messes. Sort of a Holly Go-Not-So-Lightly, she ruins borrowed clothes, parks in tow-away zones, is far better at consuming liquor than holding it and has a bad tendency to cozy up to the wrong guys.
Lawyer Rose, on the other hand, has her act together but isn't much better off. Lonely and scrunched up, she reads romance novels through stark glasses and has a smile that's a little disconcerting. When she finds herself in bed with a co-worker, she sneaks a snapshot of him just to preserve a rare moment.
Obviously, the sisters are both going through kind of a sad phase and when they have to move in together, they mix like bleach and ammonia. Their toxic conflict, however, nudges them in good directions.
Director Curtis Hanson doesn't rush the story -- one thing happens, then the next -- but it's surprisingly enjoyable to watch as Rose and Maggie eventually try to fix themselves. It could've been slow going, or corny, but it isn't. The writing (by Susannah Grant, who adapted Jennifer Weiner's novel) is so natural, and the performances so assured, "Shoes" is easy to settle into. Diaz convincingly inverts her bubbly persona into something with dimensions far beyond "Charlie's Angels," while Collette is a refreshingly sympathetic grouch. And though they may not look anything at all like siblings, they do a fine job of acting like them.
Also good is Shirley McLaine as the sisters' grandmother. She has played quite a few stern, disapproving women before (she's to chick flicks what Bruce Willis is to movies for guys who like movies), but here she very nicely downplays her usual volatility.
At just over two hours, the film might strike some as a bit long, and I'm usually the first to complain about excessive length, but in thinking back about it afterward, it's hard to come up with anything that should've been cut.
Smarter and more heartfelt than the previews suggest, "Shoes" is a tearjerker that earns its sniffles.
"In Her Shoes", the book, was decent chick lit; a sophomore effort by author Jennifer Weiner. Of note is that Weiner's books will no doubt get a fresh breath in sales after a ton of American women openly weep for this movie! I'm not sure how the studio (Fox) got Curtis Hanson to direct the film. Hanson, who's scored big with "L.A. Confidential", "Wonder Boys" and "8 Mile" seems an unlikely choice, but it is he who wisely emphasizes what is real about the film; the relationships, sibling rivalry, difficulty for a family to deal with a member who is outwardly normal, but who suffers from a psychological trauma; generation gaps and the expectations for people to be what they look like, and not who they really are.
Hanson beefed up his chances for more that just fleeting commercial success by securing Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding, About a Boy) for the really central role in the film, and surrounding her with Diaz, MacLaine, and a solid cast of performers in lesser roles. (This is not to take anything away from Mark Feurstein, who plays Simon. As always he exudes charm and vulnerability in his roles that makes him a favorite of nearly every woman who sees him on the screen).
Hanson takes Collette, as Rose, from disgust at having to deal with messy, drunken, inconsiderate sister Maggie (Diaz) when all she really wants to do is focus on a new love affair, to angry lashing out when Maggie betrays her. He allows her to show the sense of loss she has when she doesn't know what happened to Maggie, self-discovery when she gets away from being a workaholic lawyer, sweet charm when she discovers love under her nose and begins to enjoy it, to self-loathing. And back again! He allows us to see Diaz as someone at her worst - uncontrollable, inconsiderate, a woman chock-full of destructive behaviors who slowly, slowly begins to find herself when faced with a woman who won't just give her what she wants so she'll go away. Diaz is at once her most beautiful and her most cheap and tawdry in this role. MacLaine, as Ella, a caricature of every character she's played in the last 10 years, has the dubious distinction of making Maggie decide to get real and have a real life, crazy as it seems, in a Florida senior citizen community.
In the journey of self-discovery that is Rose's and Maggie's, at the same time, but in different states, Hanson fills us with the longing they both have, and the need they have to be together. For all their opposite traits, for all their mistakes, Rose and Maggie, above all, are two sisters whose lives are so entwined, they cannot be torn apart.
In the quintessential scene from the film, where MacLaine, (who has been shut out from the girls' lives because she interfered too often with their mother, her own mentally unbalanced daughter) takes out a photo album, the two reminisce about the "best day" with their mom. Two days before her death she withdrew them from school, took them to Manhattan, and attempted to sell her fudge to department stores ala Mrs. Field's cookies. Spurned, she bought Rose a Nancy Drew book and Maggie a puppy. She returned home to her husband, who was frantic with worry....he has closely guarded the girls, since she is so unstable, and he feels she needs to be hospitalized. (Manic depressive? We learn she has not been taking her meds). It is remarkable to see Maggie (Diaz) learn for the first time what that day really meant; that it caused their mother to commit suicide (Maggie thought it was a car accident) and that from that day forward, Rose protected and sheltered her from the ugliness of what their mother had done and why. It's a powerful scene, made more powerful by the information as elicited by Ella, over the old photos.
There are more well-nuanced scenes in this film, and there are also places where it attempts to play too much on your emotions, such as Maggie's insistence at picking out Rose's wedding dress.
In her shoes, of course, is metaphoric for the same shoe size that both the sisters wear, the incongruity of a closet-full of beautiful designer shoes purchased by Rose, and unworn...that Maggie dips into and takes whenever she feels like it. You never really know what life is like for a sister or a friend until you've walked in her shoes.
All in all, Hanson does a remarkable job with the material, Collette is spectacular, Diaz shines, and the film has both power and light touches that will make it memorable for women from all walks of life. Men? I daresay the handful of men that see it will like it, but most should wait and watch the DVD as a favor to their significant others!
on October 27, 2005
Cameron Diaz is always the brightest, prettiest, most popular girl in the room. She's the girl all the guys love and the women envy. She can throw down shots of tequila with the guys on the one hand and go shoe shopping with her girls on the other. So far in her career, she's played the live-wire, the over-achiever, the most elegantly dressed...the sexiest, friendliest, the most dazzling.
Not so in Curtis Hanson's (the sublime "LA Confidential") "In her Shoes." Diaz's Maggie Feller is a forlorn thief and drunk and more to the point a loser. Diaz's incandescent beauty is even dulled here: she's all dolled up, yes but underneath it all she is tragically sad.
I've always believed that the bond between siblings is the strongest bond in anyone's life and Maggie's bond with her older sister Rose (the terrific Toni Collette) is the backbone of this story: they hate each other, they love each other and they can't live with or without one another. Rose and Maggie have fought side-by-side on the battlefield of family deception and misunderstanding. They are comrades.
Director Hanson's movies always reek of the aroma of well observed life and relationships and "In Her Shoes" is no exception to this rule. But, in this case you can also marvel at Cameron Diaz's transformation into an important and serious actress of the first order.
on October 7, 2005
This film really surprised me. I expected it to be a bit of fun, a la Bridget Jones, and while it was very funny it was also very smart with a beautifully told story.
The film is about two sisters, with nothing in common but their shoe size, unexpectedly break out of the shallow stereotypes they have of themselves and of each other.
Cameron Diaz and Toni Colette are amazing in the film. And although Diaz tends to be cast as the beautiful ditz and Colette the geeky-oddball, neither actress plays to the sterotype. Colette, as the the older sister- Rose, struggles between her role as 'the one who keeps it all together' and her desire for passion & a more carefree life. While Diaz, as the selfish & self-centered younger sister, Maggie, surprises everyone and herself, when she discovers she has something to offer the world.
This film is guy friendly.
on May 24, 2006
One of the best date films of 2005, In Her Shoes is a dramatic relationship comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously. Directed by Curtis Hanson, the hand behind such films as 8 Mile (2002), LA Confidential (1997), and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992), the film is successful in a genre where so many of its peers have miserably failed. The casting is superb, and the onscreen interaction between the various characters creates a realistic impression of wavering love and conflict. Based on the novel by Jennifer Weiner, it weaves a tale of two sisters with differing lifestyles and a lifetime of personal baggage...
In Her Shoes begins with the latest installment of an ongoing personality clash between sisters Rose (Toni Collette) and Maggie (Cameron Diaz) Feller. When the shy and reserved Rose is approached by the most eligible bachelor in her law firm, the two hit it off quite nicely. But Maggie ruins the affair when she shows up on Rose's doorstep and steals the man away with her unrelenting flirtations. After constant feuding, Rose kicks Maggie out while contemplating her own future. She takes a leave of absence from her law firm and contemplates dog walking as an alternative career path. Along the way, she encounters another colleague from the firm, Simon Stein (Mark Feuerstein). The two strike up a romantic relationship, but Rose's past threatens to ruin the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Maggie discovers the two have a long-lost grandmother, Ella Hirsch (Shirley MacLaine), who lives in Florida. With no one left to leech off of, Maggie heads straight for Ella's retirement community. But Ella has no intention of being a human punching bag, and for the first time in her life, Maggie meets someone who won't put up with her perpetual self-centeredness and grossly inconsiderate behavior. It's a stand-off certain to change the lives of everyone involved...
Toni Collette is outstanding in the role of the responsible and untrusting sister, Rose. She portrays an overachieving, yet somewhat socially awkward, individual sick of playing the part of parent to her wild and rebellious sister. Her actions are understandable and believable; her reluctance to see Maggie in a new light is well-paced. On an equal note, Cameron Diaz fits the part of the irresponsible, yet likeable, Maggie. Yearning for approval, her arrested development transitions to adulthood in the face of unconditional love.
The strength of In Her Shoes is almost solely attributable to the various performances of the cast and the screenplay itself. This isn't a plot-driven movie, and the slightest bit of awkwardness between cast members or the least bit of forced dialogue could wreck the whole film. Luckily, the audience experiences neither, and most viewers will walk away satisfied with their experience. Kudos to screenwriter Susannah Grant whose portfolio includes box office hits like Erin Brockovich (2000), Ever After (1998), and Pocahontas (1995). Grant's vast expertise in manufacturing high quality scripts provided the cast with a firm foundation from which to deliver their lines. Overall, In Her Shoes is not a blockbuster titan of the big screen. It has few memorable one-liners, but from an entertainment standpoint, it works well. It whisks its audience away to another place and time without leaving them empty handed, and that's what all good movies are supposed to do...
The DVD Report
on May 16, 2006
The greatest thing about 'In Her Shoes' is that is proves to be nothing you expected it to be. I expected a comedy, somthing trivial and just ordinary to pass the time...but what I got was a delightful dramedy that touched my heart and made me laugh, cry and smile almost as much as this years 'The Family Stone'. This story, adapted from Jennifer Weiner's novel of the same name, revolves around two sisters. Rose (Toni Collette) is the smart succesful lawyer with low self esteem due to a little extra weight and not so much of a love life (in the first few scenes we see her take a picture of a man in her bed because she wants proof she actually slept with someone). Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is the funny, ditzy, trampy one who deep down has low self esteem because of her illiteracy. These two sisters love to hate each other and after one too many fights they part their ways. What happens next is a great look at family and life and life without family. Maggie, upon discovering they have a grandmother they never knew, or at least thought was dead, decides to take a bus to Florida to stay with her. Her grandmother Ella (Shirley McLaine) lives in a "retirement home for active seniors," and offers to help Maggie get back on her feet. With Maggie out of the picture Rose starts to grow, socially and actually gets a boyfriend, a serious boyfriend who in turn proposes. At the same time, Maggie goes from trampy mooch to respectable, responcible and reliable. It almost seems as if these girls are better off apart, but as they soon realize without each other they don't make sense. As the girls finally come to terms with each other and, with the help of their 'newfound' grandmother, come to terms with the early death of their mother, we see them grow and mature, each in their own ways. What's so great about this film is that is aproaches each charactor with care and compassion helping you too sympatize with each one. You feel for Rose when blows up at Maggie because you understand how crazy Maggie must make her, but you also feel for Maggie when she fails a job interview because of her illiteracy. In the beggining you'll want to cry, by the middle you'll start to laugh, and in the end you break a smile. This is a great, underrated and swept under the radar type film that should be enjoyed by everyone with a heart. Performances were great across the board, most notibly by Cameron Diaz who stole my heart with every frame. This is truly one of those films that both women and their husbands (I'm one of those husbands) can really enjoy.
on June 13, 2007
What brings this chick flick over the top is Cameron Diaz. It's a great performance by her and she carries the movie. I didn't expect that. The only other time I remember her being almost this good was in "Being John Malkovich" and of course "Something About Mary". She is a good actress but she does pick bad roles sometimes, that's her flaw.
The movie itself is way better than I ever expected it to be. Most chick flicks let me down with sappiness but "In Her Shoes" rises way above any of that. The director Curtis Hanson lets each scene breath and doesn't rush things. Characters get a chance to express themselves through nice dialogue and subtle conversations. We really get to know these people. Shirley MacLaine as the grandmother of the two sisters brings warmth and intelligence to every scene she's in. There are some funny moments but mostly this is a drama. There are some very touching scenes, especially with Diaz and an old man in a nursing home whom she befriends.
There a few flaws here and there, like one too many plot coincidences, and an over-the-top portrayal of the mother-in-law, but nothing bad enough to make a difference. Toni Collette and all the other actors also do a great job. I'm a guy and I'm a little addicted to this movie, I've seen it a few times. Weird. Congratulations to Cameron Diaz let's see if she can top this.
on August 11, 2007
I added this to my netflix queue on a whim as I was browsing 'New Releases'. And I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how charming this movie was.
It is the story of two sisters. Cameron Diaz plays the spunky getting-drunk-sex-in-the-bathroom sister. While Toni Colette plays the plain jane successful sibling. Sounds like a over-used plot, right ?
It is indeed so. But this movie is evidence that in the hands of a good director even the simplest of plotlines can produce standout movies. Curtis Hanson ("8 Mile" , "LA Confidential") does a superlative job of ensuring that the movie doesn't walk the cliched lines (pun intended).
One of the best scenes in the movie, is when a blind professor gets the slightly dyslexic Diaz to read a beautiful poem by Elizabeth Bishop and explain what it means. The beautiful way in which he prods and coaxes Diaz into doing this, goes to show the amount of skill and patience required for teaching.
Most people would be quick to label this as a chick flick. Well, if having two female leads makes a movie a chick flick, so be it. I, a heterosexual man, am glad to say that I really enjoyed this 'chick flick'.
on October 12, 2005
Having previously tackled a wide range of themes in his films, Director Curtis Hanson delves into the love/hate relationship of two disparate sisters in the film, In Her Shoes. The result is an enjoyably entertaining comedy/drama featuring a number of topflight performances and some hilarious dialogue.
Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz) is an irresponsible, practically illiterate alcoholic who sleeps around and mooches or steals to get by in the world. Her sister, Rose Feller (Toni Collette) is a self conscious, workaholic lawyer who is dating her boss and indulges in her one passion, fashionable dress shoes. (Maggie's obsession with Rose's sexy heels recalls an ongoing theme of television's Sex and the City.) Both sisters lost their psychologically impaired mother to a supposed car accident that affected their family over the years. One day Maggie is thrown out of her house by her step mother and dad. Finding refuge with her sister, Rose, she proceeds to make life miserable with her carefree attitude and interference that ends in embarrassment and anger for both. As Rose's romantic and professional life is turned upside down, Maggie is sent packing and turns to one last hope, her maternal grandmother she never knew, namely Ella Hirsch (Shirley MacLaine). Ella works in a retirement community in Florida, and Maggie's appearance causes quite a stir. When she lost her daughter, Ella lost touch with her granddaughters, and Maggie's `visit' serves as a catalyst for reconnection. Maggie's visit becomes a reawakening of sorts for herself and a chance for Ella to rediscover her lost family. Meanwhile, Rose is at a crossroads in her life and decides to change course in her job and finds romance from an unlikely source. Anxious to reunite her granddaughters, Ella resorts to extreme measures to bridge an emotional gap as her two girls begin to discover their own identities in unique and unexpected ways.
This is a gem of a film. It says something when you realize early on that you are watching something special. Curtis Hanson (L.A.Confidential, Wonder Boys) has struck gold with Susannah Grant's (Erin Brokovich) adaptation of the best seller by Jennifer Weiner. The film is really about the secrets and lies that cripple a family over time and how a strange course of events revisit the relationships or lack thereof. Hanson and the company do a marvelous job of balancing some very funny dialogue with more serious, dramatic scenes. There are some great, memorable lines, some of which are funny and smart without losing sight of the context of the story. A number of scenes are touching and affecting in their sensitive handling of real emotions without becoming clichéd. It's nice to see real people who change over time and how seemingly inconsequential supporting characters gradually come to the forefront.
The acting by the entire cast is strong and you appreciate the little nuances in facial expression and inflection of dialogue that enrich each character. This may be Cameron Diaz's best performance. That's saying something as the glamorous model has been more star than actress in her most popular films (Charlie's Angels, There's Something About Mary) and she is given a juicy role with sharp direction. Toni Collette has always been a solid actress in any film (Sixth Sense, The Hours) but she has found a wonderful character in Rose and makes the most of it. Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, The Turning Point) is terrific in what is a change of pace role where she eschews makeup to look her age and shows a maternal wisdom that is the stuff of Supporting Oscars. You wish there were more of her in the film, but what's there is delicious. It's nice to see an old pro like Norman Lloyd still displaying his acting chops in what is a minor role of a bed-ridden patient who has a profound influence on Diaz's character.
The performances are complemented by seamless editing which not only captures the right reactions, but effortlessly switches back and forth between the two sisters especially during key scenes that are thematically linked. Although the running time goes over two hours, the pacing is good, and everything seems integral to the storyline. The musical score by Mark Isham is quite effective in complimenting the emotional moments without ever being intrusive.
Despite its strong script, the film never fully explores Maggie's transformation which, while uplifting and remarkable, is never totally convincing given her origins and tendencies. Things get wrapped up in a dreamy sendoff which is perhaps too good to be true, but those same qualities also make for a more upbeat film.
Hanson displays a very keen eye in relating what is essentially a woman's film. Yes, this may be considered a woman's film in its theme and target audience, but considering the fact it is also a well made, funny, and heart rending film about love and family, the women ought to bring along the men. In Her Shoes is not just about rival sisters but rather it is about a family yanked apart and slowly brought together again in ways that are not altogether apparent at the start. How these lost souls meld together is the stuff of high entertainment and substance.
on July 4, 2006
The only reason why I didnt give this movie a five because it was kinda cheesy, however cheesy worked for me. The premise is FAMILY and what could be more improtant then that. Mix a little deception and down right romance and you have found a cute cuddly movie when you see In Her Shoes. I didnt read the book so I cant compare it. Guys will enjoy multiple booty shots of Cameron Diaz, as if we hadnt seen enough already (smile) while learning about loving a woman, and ladies you will understand the bonds of sisterhood. In Her Shoes is a great I am glad I saw that kind of a movie. Add it to your collection if you love chic flicks