In Her Shoes

on October 07, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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"In Her Shoes" provides the perfect example of a talented director rising far above his material. But there's only so much that Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "Wonder Boys") can do with the choppy, unfocused script by Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"). It remains a film of fine moments and great performances, but it's not the powerhouse it could have been.

"In Her Shoes" chronicles the rocky relationship between two sisters -- sober, buttoned-up Philadelphia lawyer Rose (Toni Collette) and her promiscuous, irresponsible and perpetually jobless younger sister Maggie (Cameron Diaz). When Maggie shows up drunk one night at Rose's place and proceeds to seduce her potential new boyfriend, the sisters' relationship comes to a head. Rose throws Maggie out and vows to cut her out of her life. A not necessarily wiser Maggie then decides to track down her long lost grandmother, Ella (Shirley MacLaine), and heads off to Florida, in order to sponge off her for awhile. That separation changes the sisters in ways they do not expect.

Though the films' title suggests otherwise, "In Her Shoes" never quite convinces us of the strong bonds between the siblings, mostly because they're apart for a huge chunk of the movie. It also doesn't seem to know where to take Maggie's character, who, unbelievably, learns to be nice and even becomes a fashion adviser to the seniors in Ella's complex. (The scenes where she reads to a blind professor in the hospital and overcomes her debilitating difficulties with the printed page are particularly maudlin.) And the portrayal of those seniors, with the notable exception of Ella, is saccharine and condescending. But MacLaine, superb as a woman hiding her pain beneath a veneer of efficiency, and Collette, utterly believable as the troubled Rose, almost make the film work. Almost, but not quite. Starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. Directed by Curtis Hanson. Written by Susannah Grant. Produced by Lisa Ellzey, Carol Fenelon, Curtis Hanson and Ridley Scott. A Fox release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for thematic material, language and some sexual content. Running time: 135 min

Tags: Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. Directed by Curtis Hanson. Written by Susannah Grant. Produced by Lisa Ellzey, Carol Fenelon, Curtis Hanson and Ridley Scott. A Fox release. Drama, saccharine, condescending, fashion, material, powerhouse
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