Director: Curtis Hanson
Rose (Toni Collette) and Maggie (Cameron Diaz) are sisters and close friends, but their relationship is strained, because they're both different in ways that heighten their insecurities. Maggie is "the pretty one" who is locked into the role of a bimbo and a flake; Rose is "the smart one," considered plain and bookish and dependable. They've lived with this unhealthy dynamic for years, stuck in their respective roles, and it takes a major falling out between them for their lives to change for the better and for their relationship to grow stronger.
It's their estranged grandmother, Ella (Shirley MacLaine), living it up in a retirement community in Florida, who helps reconcile them.
There's much to enjoy in this movie. There are moving recitations of poems by Elizabeth Bishop and e.e. cummings in scenes that show someone having a moment of breakthrough or connecting with another person in a new and deeper way. The filmmakers take care developing the characters' relationships and getting us to think about the way we define ourselves - how is it that we become the people we are, for better or worse, and what changes our self-perceptions?
A chunk of the movie is set in Philadelphia, and it was a treat for me to see Rittenhouse Square, the 30th Street Station, and of course the Art Museum steps, because you can't have a movie set in Philadelphia without someone running up the Art Museum steps. This time with dogs.
I think people who've just heard of this movie in passing assume it's fluff, but it's deeper than you expect and at times is very beautiful. One aspect of the movie I didn't like was how Rose's job situation is handled - not necessarily her need to rediscover herself, but the resolution at the end (in my mind she'll take on another job again that's suited to her intelligence and skills). As for Maggie, I like how the movie ends for her.
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