the library from which i borrow dvds has a limited selection (500?). i’m starting to get to the point where i’ve either seen all of the movies, or am not interested in the titles they offer. so, it’s getting to the point where i take chances with films like this…
i once took a fiction writing class and for one assignment we were made to write a story of 7 pages and then workshop it in the next class. one of the girls wrote a story that went, quite literally, like this: “mary and sue were friends. they were best friends and couldn’t be separated. one day mary was raped and felt really sad about it. sue decided to help her. the two women went out one night and killed the man who raped her. afterwards they were fugitives and they hit the road.” it was a story that was beyond awful, yet it has a value. that story made me appreciate all the other stories in the world which are so much more well-written and crafted. without stories like that it would be more difficult to appreciate good writing when you see it.
chick flicks, like guy movies, are typically not very well-written. both genres are usually mired in clichés and bad acting because the filmmakers know they’ve got an easy target. every once in a while, though, someone will write a good film that may or may not shatter the mold, but at least shows what good writing is about. that girl’s story in my fiction class and most chick flicks are useful, at least in part, because they illuminate quality films like this one. in her shoes is a chick flick in that it would probably be advertised in cosmo, rather than maxim, and has women as its main characters, but it’s more than a chick flick because it tells a very human story as well. at its center it is about relationships and growth and the weaknesses and strengths each person has. so, in this way it’s quite a bit more than a mere chick flick.
if told by the girl in my fiction class, the story would not impress. if pitched to a producer on an elevator ride the story would not stand out. so, it’s in the telling. with this film curtis hanson (l.a. confidential, 8 mile) gives every director of the genre a lesson on how to tell a compelling story. collette and maclaine are both great and diaz certainly holds her own. the writing is very smart, impactful and real. writing and acting of this caliber elevate even the most simple plots. i could sympathize with every character at least a little bit, and that’s an accomplishment. that’s not to say i wanted to be every character’s friend, but i understood their perspective and had some degree of sympathy for their situation. the title metaphor works well, too.