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In Her Shoes

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, Anson Mount, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Feuerstein, Ken Howard
Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

In Short: A perfect cast and well-written script make this story of two warring sisters hit just the right notes of comedy and drama, elevating it way beyond a typical chick flick.

A Perfect Fit
These Shoes Were Made for Watching
By Jenny Peters

With this serio-comic study of a family fractured by mental illness, director Curtis Hanson proves beyond a doubt that he is one of the finest filmmakers in Hollywood today. With the same deft touch he's shown in movies like "L. A. Confidential," "Wonder Boys" and "8 Mile," Hanson first assembles an all-star cast and then gives them the kind of script they can fully bring to life. "In Her Shoes" follows the volatile relationship of two sisters, Maggie (Cameron Diaz), a messed-up beauty whose life is a string of crummy jobs and one-night stands, and Ruth (Toni Collette), a plain-Jane lawyer whose only solace in an otherwise empty life comes from her closet full of expensive footwear.

While the movie might look like a typical chick flick at first glance, it is anything but that. Sure, the film happens to center around women. But it is also a multi-layered exploration of the human condition, examining the fundamental issue of how one's family affects everything in a person's life even long after becoming an adult, as well as how the choices we make in career, lovers, friends and even pets affect the innate quality of our lives.

The movie begins at a low point in both women's lives. We watch their relationship deteriorate until the two break away from each other. This is when a whole new cast of characters enters the story, and when the movie really takes off. Shirley MacLaine, the sisters' long-lost grandmother, comes with a slew of family secrets and unresolved issues that begin to unravel as the three women look to the past to rebuild their presently broken lives.

MacLaine is sublime as always, and her fellow "Florida active retirement community" cronies remind us that getting old doesn't necessarily mean that life (or love) has passed us by. Collette's performance is noteworthy as well, but it is Cameron Diaz who really surprises, going from am aimless self-involved liar and thief to a woman that deserves respect and admiration by the story's end.

There is one element to this excellent picture that does make it something of a chick flick, however. Bring tissues and be ready to share them, because by the last frame of "In Her Shoes" there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

(Updated: 01/22/08 NJ)

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