In Her Shoes Movie Review
To say your siblings are terrifying is an understatement; they are either young enough to physically torture you and mentally annoy you with the precision of a mime or they are old enough to make you really worried. Rose Feller (Toni Collette) shares my torture in abundance, if not more so. She has been looking after and taking care of her younger sister, Maggie (Cameron Diaz), since their mother died. We meet Maggie while she is getting nailed in a bathroom stall at a high school reunion. Sparks fly when Rose catches Maggie screwing Jim, the man she is seeing, and throws her out of the apartment they've been sharing. Unable to go anywhere else, Maggie goes to her father's house where she uncovers years of hidden birthday cards from a grandmother she thought was dead. So Maggie packs her bags and heads to Miami to bunk up with grandma Ella (Shirley Maclaine), the grandmother who was cast aside by her father. Meanwhile, Rose starts seeing a fellow lawyer, Simon (Mark Feuerstein), starts a dog-walking business and sets out to reconnect with Maggie.
It sounds a little too much like a dramatic episode of Sex and the City. That's fair to think upon first glance, but one should always have faith in Hanson. While most are worshipping at the temple of Wes Anderson's faux-Salinger cinema and P.T. Anderson's sprawling character landscapes, Curtis Hanson's acute sense of story and precise characterization has gone all but ignored. Whether it's a white rapper's quest for respect (8 Mile), an elderly author's self realization (Wonder Boys), or two cops searching for redemption (L.A. Confidential), Hanson knows how to build a great story and In Her Shoes proves it again. In addition to this, the film showcases career highlights from the three main leads. Diaz hasn't been this good since 1999's Being John Malkovich, finding heart and balance without over-sentimentalizing the deeply flawed Maggie. Toni Collette gives crisp humor and bite to Rose's understanding and stressful persona. However, they have no chance next to Shirley Maclaine. She underplays the character with restraint and command and has such fluent chemistry with Diaz especially.
All is not perfect in Hanson's world, however. The film slips into some pitfalls that plague all modern romantic comedies and so-called "chick flicks": The Feller stepmother is a bitch of the highest order, Jim shows up and makes Simon jealous, and the only way Rose can resolve her problems with Simon is to resolve her problems with Maggie. Nonetheless, these are acceptable losses in the face of Hanson's craftwork and his ability to lock in on the heartbreak and the trust that keeps sisters so close and yet so far away at the same time. Curtis, with the helps of his three actresses, reminds us that the main goal of a good director is to be a great storyteller. And that's a pair of shoes that certainly fit him well.
Dogs don't know she's not bacon.