What a great movie!! I was quite amazed and I do not share the previous reviewers' views that this is a girlie or weeping movie.
Here a NY girl ( Renée Zellweger) who wants to make a big career suddenly finds herself back in her hometown where a family drama unfolds: Mum ( Meryl Streep) has cancer and slowly dies. The daughter is - through emotional blackmail of her father (William Hurt) forced to take care of Mum. However,she is daddy's girl, adores the great university professor and has no real connection with her mother who she regarded as the typical, a bit stupid and uninteresting mum who just takes care of the home. But the picture suddenly changes: the adored father turns out to be a mediocre professor and writer, egoistic and most of all very, very week. Mum however keeps this family really going, keeps most of all dad going, knows all but says less, but takes care of family and friends and gets things really done. In a marvellous played scene between Mum and daughter all comes out and she gives her daughter the most important lecture of her life. And the daughter understands...Even in death Mum is the strongest of all, because she takes her own life; daughter and father/husband are too weak to do it.
On the surface one cloud argue that this is a tribute to the "housewives-mum" and their role in the family. Yes, there is this element. But I feel, most of all, it is about looking behind the façade, judging not just from the surface or from prejudices. Good message! I like that.
The acting, especially from Meryl Streep and Renée Zellweger is superb.