This is a strange little film that is both mildly depressing and very uplifting. I suppose the correct way of saying this is that the 1st half of the film is ugly in the storyline department. It is depressing and just plain “ugh” – if you know what I mean. The story revolves around two sisters, very different from one another and also very close. However, the two sisters are torn apart from one another by the infidelity of the one sister with the other sister’s boyfriend. The story gets very interesting suddenly when unscrupulous sister leaves NYC in search of her seemingly unknown grandmother. She comes to stay with her grandmother and discovers a new life for herself among the assisted living community where her grandmother lives. The story gets more involved when the sister who was betrayed is contacted by the grandmother and whisks away to visit her long-lost relative.
Let me explain in some more detail and that may help to clarify things. The two sisters are Rose (played by Toni Collette) and Maggie (played by Cameron Diaz) and the grandmother is Ella Hirsh (played by the great Shirley MacLaine). Apparently, Rose & Maggie’s mother died when the girls were very young and their grandmother was forbidden to have any contact with them after her daughter’s death. Rose is the straight-laced lawyer that loses her job over her relationship with another lawyer. Ironically, Rose’s life is improved greatly because of the disastrous end to this relationship (which is only exposed due to her sister’s infidelity). Maggie on the other hand is the foot-loose party girl that has no real direction in her life. Her life is also improved by the disastrous affair she has with Rose’s boyfriend.
Confused even more?
I suppose that’s one of the most unique things about “In Her Shoes”. The film catches you off guard. I naively thought this film was a comedy. Surprisingly, this is much more of a drama. At least it was surprising to me. The film is expertly acted, and the storyline just sucks you in! I couldn’t stop watching it. Every time I thought I was going to change the channel, there was another layer of the story that unfolded. I kept watching hoping that the sisters would reunite somehow. I wanted to learn the mystery of the grandmother’s absence from her granddaughters’ lives. The film is very engaging in this way.
The acting as I said before was expertly done. Who doesn’t like Shirley MacLaine??? She is brilliant and she has a terrific range; she goes from stern and kind of nasty to warm and vulnerable with such ease that it is a true pleasure to watch her. Toni Collette is another actress that I find to be exceptionally talented (and I have thought so since seeing her in “the Sixth Sense”). She is very real, and possesses the ability to portray the frumpy, boring Rose undergoing her transformation into a much happier version of the character with a very raw sentimentality. You really believe her as Rose! Cameron Diaz shows her range in playing Maggie. I know she is often casted as the pretty but goofy girl, but this film capitalized on such type-casting and put it on its ear. It was a very clever decision by the casting director to go with Cameron for this role and I think she rose to the occasion with real talent.
“In Her Shoes” is not what you may have expected, but it is incredibly worth the watch! It’s got a really engaging story and some fantastic performances that you really shouldn’t miss. Try not to get bummed out by the depressive beginnings of the movie. Just give it some time and you will find yourself engrossed in no time at all.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE