Saturday, March 30, 2013

Southern Belles

Steel Magnolias
Director: Herbert Ross
Cast: Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Shirely MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah
Released: November 15, 1989

Oscar nominations:
Best Supporting Actress - Julia Roberts (lost to Brenda Fricker for My Left Foot)

There are two types of "chick flicks". The first is akin to Sex and the City where the main woman loves clothes and fashion and is trying to get the attention of the cute (hot cute, not goofy cute) guy she works with or lives next door to or has been in love with all her life... These movies are often comedies (you might even call them romcoms!) and more often than not star Katherine Heigl and are just awful. Then the second type may have some similarities to the first kind....there are funny moments, there's a woman trying to get a man's attention, there's gossip and all that girly nonsense, but the biggest difference is that they are tearjerkers and they pull at your heartstrings because they want to make you CRY. They want you to weep from the depths of your soul and the only way to achieve this is to kill one of the main characters and have the other characters cry in sorrow. Beaches is a great example of this. And one year after its release came Steel Magnolias, a tearjerker chick flick.

I did not like this movie as much as I liked Beaches, but I did cry. Of course I did.

This movie is based on a 1987 play written by Robert Harling who based it on events that happened to his family. When director Herbert Ross saw it, he wanted to make it into a movie. The cast of characters includes M'Lyn (Sally Field) and her daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts) who is about to get married to a pre-famous Dylan McDermott. (Hell, even Julia was pre-famous in this movie!) Dolly Parton plays Truvy who owns the beauty salon in her home which is a big part of the movie and where many scenes are set. Shirley MacLaine is Ouiser, the cranky old lady who hates M'Lyn's husband because he's always shooting his gun at the birds and it drives her dog crazy and she can't get control of him. It wasn't until the credits when I saw her how name was spelled. I was thinking all this time they were calling her "Wheezer" and thought that was an awful name! Olympia Dukakis is Clairee who is always messing with Ouiser and taking shots at her. To round off the cast is Daryl Hannah as Annelle who is new to this small Louisiana town where they all live and is given a job at Truvy's beauty shop.

The movie jumps around in increments of time. The one character I was really confused about was Annelle. When we first meet her, she's really timid and has this gray (it looked gray!) long hair and cat-style glasses and wore very modest clothing. The next time jump reveals her with a new hair cut, blonde hair, no glasses, and more revealing clothes and she's smoking and drinking, then the next time jump she's more buttoned up and has taken to the word of God and is always praying. I never understood why she changed so much. I also didn't get her "secret" of being the new mysterious woman in town. Everyone was wondering if she was married or not and she said she wasn't sure because her husband left her. In the last segment of the film she's pregnant and the other women ask her what she plans to name the baby. She replies, "If it's a girl, Shelby". (You'll understand why soon) and one of the women asks her, "And it's a boy?" And she replies, "Shelby." God, I hope that baby was girl.

Cue the tears
Truvy's beauty shop is where the girls often gab and gossip....just like any real beauty shop anywhere, I suppose. Shelby has diabetes and when she's getting her hair done for her wedding, she gets an attack and her mother treats her like she's a little baby! I would have been pissed if somebody treated me like the way M'Lyn treated Shelby. Because of her condition, Shelby has been advised by her doctor that she shouldn't have children, but because she can't adopt because of her health, Shelby wants a child and gets pregnant and has a son. Everything is fine until a year after her son is born, she collapses, is in the hospital with kidney failure, has a coma and dies when her family must make the decision to unplug her life support since they are told she was most likely never wake up. Shelby is based on the playwright's sister who also had diabetes and wanted a child even though she was advised she shouldn't, got pregnant, and died.

The movie ends with the living characters at a park at Easter and Annelle goes into labor and they all get her into a car and rush her to the hospital. The camera pans out and we see the car driving through the town as the credits rolled. Horrible ending. I would recommend Beaches before I recommended this movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment