Oscar winners William Hurt and Meryl Streep are united in this tale of a family in crisis. Katherine (Streep) and George (Hurt) Gulden encounter domestic strife when Katherine is diagnosed with cancer, and they turn to their daughter Ellen (Renee Zellweger), for help. Ellen is initially reluctant to leave her job as a New York journalist and return home, feeling that she has left her family behind. However, Ellen discovers that there are unresolved emotional issues which still affect her.
Based on Anna Quindlen's bestselling novel
, this is a mother-daughter and father-daughter story, two for the price of one. But director Carl Franklin also tries to inject a police-mystery angle that it neither needs nor will support. Renee Zellweger plays a young writer on the rise, who has finally got her break for a New York magazine. While home for a birthday party for her nearly famous writer father (William Hurt), she learns that her mother (Meryl Streep) has been diagnosed with cancer. Then her father does the unthinkable: he all but commands her to put her career on hold to take care of her mother and nurse her through her illness. Dad, a popular college professor who has never received the literary acclaim he always believed he deserved, essentially checks out--and daughter must play parent to her mother. Strong performances by Streep and Zellweger give this parent-child relationship the heart--and the anger--of the real thing, while Hurt seems slightly disembodied as the self-involved father whose needs have dominated both women. Still, the detective-story aspect (the film is told in flashback, as the cops try to discover whether someone slipped Mom a fatal dose of morphine) is a construct that could have been done without. --Marshall Fine
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.