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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Cameron Diaz
Toni Collette
Shirley MacLaine.
Directors
Curtis Hanson.
Screenwriters
Suzannah Grant.
Running Time
130 minutes

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In Her Shoes
The lift given here to the material by the director and his three leading ladies is astonishing.


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Plot
Sisters Rose (Collette) and Maggie Feller (Diaz) couldn’t be more different. Rose is a shy city lawyer; Maggie a gorgeous, good-time gal hopping from bed to bed, job to job. When Maggie betrays Rose’s trust, the siblings part company — only to find each other again (and themselves) via a grandmother they thought was dead (MacLaine).


Review
In Her Shoes
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Jennifer Weiner’s sophomore novel, In Her Shoes, proved a huge hit on its publication in 2003, yet another addition to the post-Bridget chick-lit phenomenon. It was without doubt one of the classier examples; still, its very definitely womanly concerns — relationships, career crises, and yes, shoes — perhaps make it an unlikely choice for Curtis Hanson, whose previous three films — 8 Mile, Wonder Boys and L. A. Confidential — have the distinct tang of testosterone about them.

Yet Hanson has never shied away from surprises, and to dismiss his earlier work as boys’ stuff is to ignore the sensitivity to universal human quirks and weaknesses that is present in many of his films.

And so to this — a simple tale of sibling rivalry and inter-familial heartbreak and secrets. The central characters could have been gross stereotypes, Rose (Collette) the frumpy but clever girl who loves shoes because at least they’ll always fit; Maggie (Diaz) the va-va-voom blonde flitting from one man to the next and filching said shoes because at least she has occasions on which to wear them. Yet Weiner is blessed with the talent to create compelling, very real people from the dullest of clichés, something she shares with screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and Hanson himself, his male perspective bringing grittier notes to a story arc that could (and occasionally does) veer dangerously close to unabashed schmaltz.

They are helped in no small measure by Collette and Diaz, the former giving a typically intelligent, understated performance, while the latter finds hidden depths in a character who could easily have remained an unpleasant, one-dimensional brat. After Maggie commits an act of unspeakably hurtful betrayal and the sisters separate, Hanson pointedly splits the action between Rose’s slate-grey, icy Philadelphia cityscape and Maggie’s candy-coloured Florida bolthole, all palm trees and sunshine. But sunshine casts shadows, and it’s in these scenes that Maggie faces up to her insecurities, loneliness and selfishness, giving the film its breadth and humanity.

Taking his time over 130 minutes, Hanson isn’t afraid to pay tribute to the significance of human emotions, however apparently small, and the subtleties of evolving, maturing relationships. As such, while on the surface very much a girls’ film, this ruefully honest picture has something to say to everyone.


Verdict
A simple yet rich drama played with humour and compassion and blessed with excellent performances.


Reviewed by Liz Beardsworth

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for In Her Shoes
Empire Star Rating

Sweet film with great performances ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by pallab_seth at 19:37, 02 July 2007 | Report This Post


bittersweet study of family ties, boasting wit, class and emotion. Not at all what you’d expect from a movie about girls and shoes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 20:05, 14 March 2007 | Report This Post


Excellent

Surprisingly engaging chick flick for intelligent people (or Men as we're better known). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 16:59, 20 October 2006 | Report This Post


Lovely

A great little film, with terrific performances (particularly from Collette) and some very poignant moments that I'm sure most can relate to. Hardly a must see or a must own but does more than you'd expect. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by qualidad at 23:32, 14 April 2006 | Report This Post


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