Mindful Fluff

While browsing through the New Releases in the video store, don't neglect the recently released comedy, In Her Shoes. Probably there are multiple copies on the shelf, which usually means mindless fluff. But not in this case. This movie is that rare, wonderful thing: mindful fluff.

The story concerns two sisters: Maggie (Cameron Diaz), pretty and out of control; and Rose (Toni Collette), plain and in control (sort of). These differences drive the sisters apart and then, through some undistinguished plotting, bring them back together. There is no point in describing the plot or the characters any further, because they are formulaic. The charm lies in the execution: the screenplay, pacing, and acting, especially Diaz and Collette, who do a beautiful job of portraying the two sisters' complicated but powerful bond.

To judge by most Hollywood films, not to mention popular TV fare like Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives, women have no lives apart from their sex lives, and their relationships with one another are based solely on a neurotic need to process information about their sex lives. No amount of rhetorical prattle about "female empowerment" alters this dismally one-dimensional portrait. But in its light-handed way, In Her Shoes provides an alternative.

It's a comedy, of course, which means that the family conflict gets resolved at the end. This doesn't always happen in life, needless to say. But the best compliment I can give In Her Shoes is that it could have worked as a tragedy, in which the sisters never reconcile. Indeed, one reason why it succeeds as a comedy is that it allows tragic emotions to peek through the surface. In sum, fluff this good is hard to make and deserves at least as much respect as, say, mindless gloom.

June 4, 2006 11:53 AM |



PRC Pop 

The Chinese pop music scene is like no other ...

Remembering Elvis 

The best part of him will never leave the building ...

Beyond Country 

Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

Miles the Rock Star? 

Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

Essay Contest 

Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

Me Elsewhere

Edward Hopper 

Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Martha Bayles published on June 4, 2006 11:53 AM.

Away Message was the previous entry in this blog.

When the Miniseries Was King is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.