Published Jan 01, 2006Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile) continues to expand his already diverse oeuvre with In Her Shoes, an adaptation of Jennifer Weiner's acclaimed "chick lit" novel. The story contains a lot of warmth and feels like a poignant and well-made ode to familial relationships and respecting the differences of our loved ones. Yet once the credits roll, one is left questioning the cinematic purpose of In Her Shoes, and if it wouldn't have been more suited for HBO.
Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette play Maggie and Rose Feller, two very different yet hopelessly co-dependent sisters. Maggie sleeps around and avoids employment, while Rose works at a well-regarded law firm and eats too much. Their dysfunctional "odd couple" situation is suddenly threatened when Maggie sleeps with one of Rose's rare suitors, sending her to stay with their estranged grandmother, Ella (a lovely Shirley MacLaine, in her most subtle performance). This climax throws the story into a web of life questioning and predictably wraps it into a nice, neat ball of sentiment by film's end.
In Her Shoes is a surprisingly small and intimate character study when it isn't trying too hard. The script has some great lines, and Hanson gets some wonderful performances out of his actresses: Collette is lovely in her characteristic role as the ugly ducking, and Diaz finds vulnerability in her usual role as the bimbo with a hidden heart. But more often than not, the film is ridiculously sentimental, handling subplots with the grace of a movie of the week (from Maggie's illiteracy to Ella blaming herself for her daughter's death). Every theme and message becomes too obvious, right down to the blatant metaphor of shoes as women.
Somehow the film ends up feeling like too little and too much at the same time, and perhaps stretched out as a season of a television series (like another women in the city book adaptation with a prevalent use of shoe metaphors), this story would be a bit more justified being on a screen. (Fox)