I love In Her Shoes. This is a wonderful movie, filled with big laughs and lots of heart, never succumbing to anything cheap, and always demonstrating compassion for its characters. Curtis Hanson’s naturalistic direction was a perfect fit for the emotionally sensitive material, while he demonstrated a deft hand for light comedy, and as always, a generous ability to coax excellent performances out of an ensemble cast. He made SO many solid or great films all throughout his steady directorial career: The River Wild, Wonder Boys, 8 Mile, L.A. Confidential, Bad Influence, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle – he could do any genre seemingly at any point, and it’s a terrible shame that health issues slowed his life and filmic output, and even more sad to learn of his recent passing just yesterday. I need to go back and revisit his poker drama Lucky You, with Erica Bana, on which he collaborated with the great writer Eric Roth (The Insider, Munich, Benjamin Button). The eclecticism of Hanson’s storytelling choices simply cannot be denied, and because he placed a large emphasis on the people within his narratives, all of his films have a humanistic quality to them, even when dabbling in genre-y elements.
Cameron Diaz was super-sexy as Maggie, a promiscuous, hard-drinking, and perpetually aimless couch potato who can never pull her shit together, and was matched very well with Toni Collette as her all-business sister named Rose, a woman trying to successfully balance her career and love life in equal measure. Shirley MacLaine did fantastic work as their grandmother who sets them both straight in all areas of life, while Norman Lloyd stole the entire show and elicited tons of tears as a blind patient of Diaz’s (she becomes a nurse for the elderly) who asks her to read poetry to him as he lays in his bed; the unique friendship that develops between the two of them always melts my heart and makes me smile. Seriously – this is a great little film, with nary a false moment or wasted scene. The screenplay by Susannah Grant was witty and funny and sharp and Terry Stacey’s warm lensing made the most out of the sunny Florida locations and Diaz’s bikini-ready body. Call it a chick-flick if you want — I’ll just call it an awesome movie that never fails to entertain and enlighten, and a further reminder of how elegant and clean a filmmaker Hanson was all throughout his quietly underrated career.