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FAMILY STORY: In Her Shoes

In Her Shoes
Genre: Drama
Director: Curtis Hanson
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Feuerstein.
Storyline: Tale of two sisters.
Bottomline: Definitely more than a `chick flick'.

"In Her Shoes" could so easily have been a soggy, Danielle Steel-type story, what with poetry of the heart being bandied about between the two siblings.

But it redeems itself because its characters descend into ugliness before a touching reconciliation.

Maggie is the hot one who always gets the men, even though you begin to suspect she's barely literate. And while she lives off others, strutting around in her underwear and her sister's Jimmy Choos, Rose leads an upright, stable life in her sober, plus size clothing. Except when it comes to shoes... because unlike clothes, the shoes always fit.

The film isn't just about how the irresponsible, self-centred Maggie learns her lesson. It's about how Rose finally blooms, and realises that though she mostly wants to kill her sister, she cannot do without her.

Ok, so it sounds like a conventional feel-good film about loving your family. But the characters — or rather their relationship with each other — are more complex than that making them true to life.

And the great part is, this isn't a lovely, golden-haired Cameron D's movie, it's the ugly duckling's time to shine.

Rose gets the man, the audience sympathy and finds herself in the film. Bringing it all together is Shirley Maclaine, as the astute grandmother.

Living in a retirement community for active senior citizens hasn't diminished her charm any. Her surroundings offer a lot of Golden Girls-type humour.

Director Curtis Hanson must be saluted for saving this film from being one of those cloyingly sweet dramas. He's especially good at scenes that have potential to be terribly trite: You'd think a climactic scene that involves one of the characters reading a poem by e.e. Cummings would be a ``Gawd help us" moment, but it's surprisingly moving. And one of the best scenes involves another poem, this time by Elizabeth Bishop - Maggie reads it to a blind man.Great film to watch, with your sisters.

SUSAN MUTHALALY

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