out of Five
Running time: 130
Hugely enjoyable feel-good drama with a sharp script and terrific performances from its leading ladies.
Curtis Hanson’s adaptation of Jennifer Weiner’s best-selling novel is very similar to his earlier adaptation of The Wonder Boys
, in that it’s a sharply written, beautifully observed drama with recognisable characters and strong performances. In fact, it’s deserving of that time-honoured epithet, the feel-good movie of the year
Toni Collette plays Rose, a successful Philadelphia lawyer whose life is thrown into disarray when her insensitive, party-loving sister Maggie (Cameron Diaz) comes to stay, having been thrown out by their father (Ken
Howard) and hateful step-mother (Candice Azzara). After a shocking betrayal, Rose kicks Maggie out, so she heads for Florida to see her long-lost grandmother Ella (Shirley Maclaine), without even telling Rose that she exists.
Whilst living in Ella’s Florida retirement community, Maggie realises that her freeloading days are numbered and, with her grandmother’s help, she begins to make something of her life. Meanwhile, Rose quits her job and begins a romance with an ex-colleague (Mark Feuerstein). Eventually, however, she begins to wonder where her sister is.
The script (by Erin Brockovich screenwriter Susannah Grant) is brilliantly written and strikes the perfect balance between comedy and drama. These are painfully real people, in believable, recognisable situations and Hanson is careful not to let things get too exaggerated, despite the occasional overly convenient plot contrivance.
The performances are exceptional. Both sisters could easily have been horrible clichés (the frumpy, unattractive one and the ditzy gorgeous one) but Collette and Diaz find real depths in their characters.
Diaz, in particular, gives a career-best performance, although the film-makers hedge their bets by having her appear either semi-naked or skimpily-dressed in almost every scene.
Maclaine is equally terrific – she gives a quietly subtle performance that is both surprising and incredibly moving.
In short, In Her Shoes is a hugely enjoyable, well written and beautifully acted feel-good drama that will almost certainly nab a nomination or two come Oscar time. Bring tissues. Highly recommended.