Idol Chatter

in-her-shoes_idol.jpgI ought to know not to judge a flick by its trailer. It’s the cheap pick-up line, the carnival barker, the radio hit that makes you think the whole album is pop schlock. And so, when I saw the trailer for “In Her Shoes,” starring Toni Collette, Shirley McLaine and Cameron Diaz–a daffy, bouncy Diaz, trying on lots of shoes–on a plane, “fair warning,” I thought, and pulled down my shade and went to sleep.
Then, after seeing Toni Collette in “Little Miss Sunshine,” I decided–as I sometimes do when a performance knocks my socks off–that I had to see everything she’s done. Which meant swallowing my medicine and renting “In Her Shoes,” which turns out to have nothing to do with shoes. Instead it’s about how a love lost can skew our ability to love anyone else.

Diaz and Collette play adult sisters who have taken utterly opposite directions to their mother’s death decades before. Collette has fashioned herself into a hyper-responsible, hard-shelled lawyer prepared for every eventuality but love. Diaz depends on her attractive physique (amply exhibited here) and dizzy charm to keep her in men and spending money–both of which she’s more than capable of grifting from her sister.
How this family dynamic gets rejiggered, and how McLaine, a crusty Florida widow, figures in their fate is all spoiler material. Collette’s character loses her dramatic oomph as the picture goes one and she gets nicer; the burden on Diaz’s acting grows as her character matures; it’s not an even swap, but the movie’s watchability is saved by McLaine’s grit and utter believability, even after the script goes Hollywood.
It helps that the love interest here is hardly the usual Hollywood hunk. It also helps that movie’s point is both complicated and worth making: That real love isn’t really possible until we’re ready to confront ourselves. Only then will we stop asking people to love us on our terms and take the love we find.

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