Sunday, October 23, 2005

In Her Shoes

2005, US, directed by Curtis Hanson

Curtis Hanson and Ron Howard must have a bet going where they're each attempting to direct a film in every genre possible, but even with that in mind, In Her Shoes seems a surprising choice, on the surface, for the director of fare like LA Confidential or Bad Influence. It's a true chick flick - the title sequence underlines the footwear fetish - with three meaty lead performances, plenty of family drama, and more than a few laughs among the tears. Look a little closer at Hanson's record, though, and it's perhaps not so odd to see him turn in a film like this: he's helped revive more than one actress's career - think Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand That Rocked the Cradle or, especially, Kim Basinger in LA Confidential and 8 Mile - and given us unexpected turns from Meryl Streep (in The River Wild) or Katie Holmes in Wonder Boys. While the drama meanders from time to time - a reflection of the two interwoven stories that keep characters offscreen for long periods - Hanson does a fine job working with the three leads, credibly bringing Cameron Diaz from irresponsible party girl to something resembling an adult, and shepherding Toni Collette through an ugly duckling transformation. Shirley Maclaine is surprisingly restrained - her scene-stealing sidekick gets the best lines - and in the process acquires an appropriately grandmotherly dignity. It's not Hanson's most distinctive work, but it's generally well-crafted stuff, with relatably flawed characters and more than a little charm around its rough edges.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States