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 sisters' relationship and prompt 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 merely fluff, but it's a little deeper than you expect and at times is beautiful. One major aspect of the movie I didn't like was how Rose's job situation is handled - not her need to rediscover herself or change, but the resolution to her work troubles and engagement to the man she winds up dating (and in general, I thought that there's much about the general family relationships, between father, grandmother, and stepmother that remains largely unexplored). As for Maggie, I like how the movie ends for her.
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