Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz are sisters. Collette is the older, sensible one, who has made a career as a lawyer. Diaz is the hard-drinking, terminally selfish party girl. After a series of disasters, which culminate in Diaz sleeping with Collette’s beau, the sisters have a seemingly irreversible falling out. Collette’s life is in ruins, but the pieces are gradually picked up by a co-worker who has loved for from afar for years. Diaz, meanwhile, discovers that she has a grandmother she nev…r knew about (Shirley MacLaine), and heads off to the Florida retirement community. She starts off as a sponge, but gradually begins to mature as a human being.
This latter development is most welcome, given how vile she is in the early goings. Curtis Hanson’s film is a warm, gentle comedy that foregoes obvious humour for sympathetic character studies. The leads are excellent. Collette has so much presence that you miss her as soon as she is off the screen, and Diaz reminds us that, Charlie’s Angels notwithstanding, she has some serious acting chops. The 130 minute running time is a bit excessive, but one is still actually sorry to leave these people at the end.
A big bass line kicks in from the moment the 20th Century Fox logo appears. This actually had me concerned for a moment that the audio track would be over the top, but such fears proved unfounded. The sound is, in fact, rather low key, but still provides some nice environmental effects (notably during street scenes). The placement is first rate (phones ring in the precise spatial location characters then head to answer them), and there is no distortion on the dialogue.
The aspect ratio is 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the image is very sharp. The colours are rich (if sometimes a little on the dark side) and the flesh tones are accurate. Contrasts are excellent, and the blacks are perfect. There is a little bit of grain, but this doesn’t really impair the viewing experience. If anything, the result is an even warmer image. There is no visible edge enhancement.
Not much here, unfortunately. Setting aside the pure hype of the Fox “Inside Look” piece, there are three making-of featurettes. Each has a particular focus (“The People in the Shoes” is about the characters, “A Retirement Community for Acting Seniors” looks at the cast of that setting, and “From Death Row to the Red Carpet: The Casting of Honeybun” is about a dog that has a small role in the film), but they aren’t very substantial. That’s it. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
A thoughtful, generous character study. I went in very suspicious, but was capitvated.
Special Features List
- 3 Featurettes