on 17 January 2006
Curtis Hanson wouldn’t be the most likely choice or the first to adapt the Jennifer Weiner novel about girls and shoes ‘In Her Shoes’. The dramatic comical tale of two sisters and how their lives differ after a harsh betrayal in the sisterhood. This at first glance isn’t the perfect material for the director of the violent testosterone driven ‘LA Confidential’. How wrong that initial thought is.
Toni Collette plays Rose, a work driven, frumpy and downright depressed lawyer. Cameron Diaz is Maggie, the opposite cliché, the free spirited party girl. Maggie is ever dependent on her sibling, but when she crosses the line when Rose finally hits the jackpot romantically, a painful feud and separation ensues.
Collette boasts her undisputable star power, as she brings new life to her superb character that could have been a daft stereotype in the hands of a less established actress. Rose is always looking out for her sister, considering job possibilities before her own personal indulgences. Collette portrays this element of her character deftly and powerfully. The murmurs of Best Actress Oscar just keep getting louder. Diaz is of a similar strength, avoiding the cliché in like Collette in her believable and poignant role.
Hanson moulds wonderful and unexplored elements of the family drama, intertwining the serious and amusing features into a genre type that switches between the sisters’ lives.
There is no violence present, yet certain parts of the frame can easily appeal to the male viewers (and no, not just Cameron Diaz in a skimpy bikini). On the surface, all the qualities that structure the chick flick are there, but internally, the film contains a brutal frankness
about it and snappy humour to entertain the boys.
There is an effective transition between the cold Philadelphia cityscape and the colourful Florida resort. Shirley Maclaine doesn’t surprise in her wise old grandmother role, and she shines as the legend she is, being one of the key players in Hanson’s scheme to teach the importance of family emotions. In fact the whole quartet of elders (particularly the hospitalised ex-professor) are rewarding to the film.
By turns it ‘s heartwarming yet at particular times heart wrenching, and the film’s leads teach the integral values of family, love and human emotions.
As mentioned several times previously, the potential clichés have been avoided, by Weiner’s skill to restore the characters to compelling people, and Erin Brockovich scribe Susannah Grant does justice to the gifts that the sophomore aimed novel gave us.
Compassionate, moving yet hilarious. Through the hardest negative efforts to find a flaw to this, I just can’t insult this honest faultless gem.
on 6 May 2006
After reading some of the other reviews of this film on this site, I felt compelled to write my own review. Sure, everyone has their own tastes but, in my opinion, it is ridiculous to award this film 1 star. Sure, feel good chick flicks may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there is a lot more to this film than that and I say that as a 29 year old male.
I have watched this film 5 times. I hired it from my local video store on 2 occasions and watched it twice, both times. I really can't recommend this film enough. To criticise this film for being shallow, or unemotional or too long, I think you either have to be a psychopath, devoid of all human emotion, or a bitter resentful female, who is just jealous of Cameron Diaz and her beauty!!!
Perhaps I love this film for personal reasons, but the issues it deals with, loss, insecurity, redemption, forgiveness as well as mental health and literacy are all dealt with a great deal of tact and the film never comes across as cheesy. Even the bit where Diaz reads the poem is well done and the poetry featured in the film is really beautiful too.
All 3 of the main characters are acted out with a great deal of emotion without anyone milking it in situations where that could so easily have been the case.
I will probably end up watching this film another 50 or 60 times. The last film that made me do that was American Beauty and there are certain similarities between the 2 films in my opinion. The humour in "In her Shoes" is subtle and the way that the film alternates from really funny scenes straight to very emotional scenes (ie Collette and Diaz talikng about their mothers death) is done in a way that allows the film to flow in a very inteligent way. I've cried every single time I've watched this film.
Don't be persuaded by the negative reviews of this film. As I say, everyone has their own preferances but it does seem a bit odd that someone should mark this film so lowly when it got great reviews from Empire and Heat.
on 10 December 2007
I've been surprised at the extremely mixed reviews for this film. Personally i loved it. It had the makings of being a sloppy chick flick but somehow just missed the mark, which i think is to its credit.
Toni Colette is an amazing actress, few are as adabtable as she is. She portrays Rose, the older, slightly uptight sister, perfectly - and i'd know, being the eldest of three girls!! Her character is normal and insecure and makes mistakes. Her love interest is also an interesting choice, as he's shorter than her and not the typical rom-com hunk! Again i feel this works to the films credit.
I like Cameron Diaz anyway, but in this she gave a really top notch performance. Despite playing the party girl, she gave her character Maggie a depth not often seen in her usual roles. It's interesting to see the change in Maggie as the film progresses and she learns to be self sufficient.
I may be biased as i have sisters, and can really relate to the very realistic relationship between Maggie and Rose, but i love this film.
on 1 February 2006
Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is a naughty party girl. We first meet her when she's throwing up in the rest room of a nightclub, a young hunk hovering over her in disgust. Insecure and neglected, she's been coasting through life basically on her looks. But time is steadily catching up with her; she can no longer rely on her tarty beauty and her ability to beguile men as much as she used to.
Her more introverted sister Rose (Toni Collette) is Maggie's mirror opposite: She's superficially a mess - a slightly overweight workaholic who settles for finding love in the pages of romance novels. She buys shoes because they are the only item of clothing that fits her properly, and marvels at her handsome boss' presence in her bed, even taking a photo of him to prove that he is actually there.
Both these sisters are insecure, but in different ways and about different things. With Maggie passed out drunk, Rose needs to come pick her up. When she tries to take Maggie back to their father's house, however, she's barred at the door by their evil stepmother, who insists Rose take her sister home with her. Maggie steals from and betrays Rose, she helps herself to her sister's expensive shoes, ice cream, and other stuff that she knows she's no supposed to take.
Rose is obviously angry with her sister's laziness and lack of ambition, yet she is reluctant to evict her, when Maggie betrays Rose in a moment of thoughtlessness, a gigantic rift is caused between them. Finally evicted, she boards a bus to Florida without a word to anyone, hooking up with her long lost grandmother, Ella (Shirley MacLaine). Ella helps Maggie get back on track, finding her a job as a hospice worker and helping her start a business as a personal shopper for the assisted-living set. Rose meanwhile comes to terms with her insecurities by quitting her job and becoming a part-time dog walker and even gaining a new boyfriend (Mark Feuerstein) in the process.
In Her Shoes is all about the ups and downs of sibling love between injured and self-doubting opposites. And while this issue has obviously been movingly explored in other movies, rarely has it been tackled with such emotional honesty. Although In her Shoes may be earnest, and contemporary, and it certainly highlights the needs and insecurities of women; the film is not that ironical – apart from the fact that Maggie and Rose are apprehensive about different things, and it's interestingly un-cynical; there's definitely no room for cutting-edge, or clever hipness in director Curtis Hanson's world.
Instead we have a heart felt and well acted drama that is more interested in flirting around the mysteries of a love-hate relationship and selling the message of the importance of family and that everything's probably going to turn out alright in the end. For Rose, salvation and deliverance comes in the form of exotic food and a man who disregards her propensity to put on the pounds and can finally love her for whom she is, and for Maggie it comes in the form of newly found confidence, insight, responsibity, and even poetry!
The acting is generally top-notch, with the incredible Ms. Collette, with her horsy laugh and wide, puppy dog eyes proving that she's one of the most versatile actors around. And Shirley MacLaine does a nicely understated turn as Grandma Ella, but it is Cameron Diaz who is the real find here, giving one of her best performances in years as the irresponsible, good for nothing vamp Maggie.
In Her Shoes lacks originality and is fairly formulaic fare, but it builds to a surprising level of emotional power, and makes up for its shortcomings with its understated intelligence, sensitivity and finely attuned sense of character. Hanson is a restrained but confident director who knows that an audience will remain engaged to a story, no matter how prescribed, as long as people they care about populate it. Mike Leonard February 06.
on 20 April 2006
I did enjoy this film but just felt it lacked a special something that makes a film want to be repeatedly watched. 'In Her Shoes' attempts to arouse emotion but simply fails to do so. Both lead actresses were very good as their characters (especially Diaz) but I just didn't feel the chemistry between them.
1. The film was too long: just over two hours (no wonder previous reviews talk about losing interest).
2. Her career change to dog walker is slightly unbelieveable. Who would quit a job as a lawyer for such an unskilled and underpaid job?
3. Nothing significant ever happens: the film's storyline is far too gradual.
4. The best lines are given to the people in the residential community, with very few witty lines granted to the leads.
I felt the scene when Diaz is taught to read was very touching, especially when the bedrdden man tells her that she is clever which makes her day, if not her year! Her transformation from a lazy tart to a respectable and employed woman is very heartwarming to watch. Collette's character gains a lot of sympathy throughout the film but it's never targetted anywhere. As with most characters in the film her stroy ends happily.
Verdict: heartwarming tale of conflicting sisters that is watchable but absolutely nothing special (or original).
on 5 October 2011
My husband bought this as 'light entertainment' to distract me when I was ill - happily for me it turned out not to be your average 'chick flick' but a more of a lovely thought-provoking family drama with enough meat to keep you engaged but enough levity to keep you smiling.
Other posters here have done a great job describing the film so I will try to give hints to the depth of the story without spoiling it for you:
This film explores how two people who are totally different(the sisters Rose and Maggie-May), but born into the same family and exposed to the same tragedy deal with life and each other.
The question is explored: why do two people stick together through hurt, disappointment, exploitation and even betrayal?What is there that is greater and stronger than even your own irritation and unwillingness, that makes you hold on to another person, feel responsible for her and care for her well-being, when everything inside and outside of you is screaming at you to let go and run for the hills.
It warrants discussion, and this film attempts to push into the spotlight just how much hard work 'love' really is and how far it can sometimes be removed from that 'fluffy, pink, saccarine feeling' people expect it to invoke. How hard it is to 'get it right', because, a) everyone thinks they know how love should make them feel but few actually understand how that feeling is accompished and b) it is sometimes difficult to translate the love we feel in our heart into terms another can actually understand and feel loved by (= e.g.look out for the scene in the diner where the sisters morph verbally from friends to foes in a split second).
On the one hand there seems to be so much failed love in this film and yet on the other hand so much heroic effort clocked up that once the characters learn to forgive themselves and each other, walk 'in the other's shoes' a bit yet acknowledge whatever they themselves have indeed achieved, it gives them the impetus and the determination to keep on trying and that is what sets everyone free in the end.
It is essential to look, not just at the superficial physical juxtaposition of the two siblings, but past that and take in the loneliness/lifelessness most of the the rooms in this film exude, the unusual art on the walls, the quite desperation in the eyes of just about everyone in the family.
Think of the pivotal tragedy of the plot and ask: why did Maggie May get stuck in the dependancy of a six year old while her body matured to that of an accomplished, irresponsible and overtly sexy flirt? Why did Rose become addicted to order/structure, work and food as an antidote to and excuse for actual living? What about the intelligent Grandma allowing herself to be frozen in a moment when she has so much to offer? What about the Father and his strange choice of wife in a desperate but unsuccessful bid for normalcy after the tragedy? So many thought provoking things to ponder ... long after the satifiying end.
The acting is as superb as the cinematography and the screenplay, oh, and the poetry used is just beautiful!
I hope this piqued your curiosity - this film is worth watching.
on 13 April 2006
Do you have a sister?
This film is a beautiful and simple renditition of the trials and tribulations of sisterly love and sibling rivalry.
You may see yourself in the characters, you may wish you had the words, in the end, you can always turn to poetry.
This is a film about emotion and human experience, if that makes it a 'chick flick' , then I thank the philosophers for creating the dichotomy that is gender. Watch it with an open mind and be pleasantly surprised!!!!
on 6 August 2014
Wow what a gem. Started slowly but well worth the slow start. A brilliant feel good story about two sisters who live very different lives but learn a lot from each other and about their childhood as the story progresses. Shirley mcClean is at her best here too. Not a dry eye in the house by the end. Fabulous.
on 21 December 2007
I hired this film without much expectation, but watched it three times. I found it to be an intelligent and subtly acted film. It's unusual to find such good films these days where the acting is so good and the story line so interesting. I loved the scenes in the "retirement community for active seniors"! I also enjoyed watching the featurette about the "acting seniors" who played the extras. This was a very watchable and engrossing film.
on 8 April 2006
I never got the oportunity to see this film at the cinema due to I was on holiday and by the time I got back it was already off the cinema. But a couple of weeks back I purchased a copy of In Her Shoes, and was absolutely amazed by this masterpiece of a film.
First off Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette were great as the two squabbling sisters who find it so hard to be together and so hard to be without each other. However the show was stolen by an amazing Shirley Maclaine, I always liked her and thought she was the only good thing in Bewitched but in this film I thought that she should be praised.
Secondly the film has some hilarious moments in it with Diaz talking about her days when she worked at the Canal House and she took off the C on one of her nights out, but the director does not emphasize this and doesn't try to go to far with the jokes made.
Thirdly the film had me almost crying at the end of the film because of its emotional climax that really was sad. The film got you so attached to the chAaacters and I really thought I knew these spectacular characters.
Guys, if you think this is a girls film then at least tune in to see the stunning Cameron Diaz in a bikini. That was of course another plus.
Spectacular, don't even think just watch.