When someone thinks of Curtis Hanson, they primarily think “L.A. Confidential” and “8 Mile” not a so called “chick flick”. And while it may be hard to think of Hanson directing a movie like “In Her Shoes”, once you see the movie, you can see just how easy it can be.
The Australian actress Toni Collette from such as the films The sixth Sense, Velvet Goldmine and America’s favorite sweetheart actress Cameron Diaz from such films as Charlie’s Angels, Vanilla Sky” stars as Rose and Maggie Feller, sisters, who, despite their differences, really love each other. The character Rose is a career driven lawyer, and Maggie is a fun loving women who is beginning to confront the concept of aging. The story begins, to the song of Garbage’s “Stupid Girl,” with both characters doing voiceovers as they go into sexual encounters. Rose begins with her boss Richard Burgi who ends up at her apartment; Maggie’s sexual encounter takes place in the bathroom at her ten year high school reunion. Maggie ends up tossing her cookies, and the guy she’s with calls her sister to pick her up. After a confrontation with their stepmother Candice Azzara, Maggie is thrown out of the house and Rose is forced to take Maggie home with her. Rose pushes Maggie to go out and get a job, but instead shoe goes to New York for a MTV audition. The audition goes wrong when we the viewer discover that Maggie doesn’t read very well.
In time, Maggie finds a job at a dog salon. After work one day, she discovers that her sister’s car has been towed away. Two guys come up to her and ask her if she wants a ride to the tow lot. She agrees, and after a few drinks, they arrive at the lot, where one of the guys tries to take advantage of her.
When Rose gets home from a business trip the next day, she’s angry to find a boot on her car and Maggie lying in her bed with a dog stolen from the salon. Rose insists that Maggie be gone by the time she gets back from work. While Rose is at work, her boss shows up at the apartment and asks Maggie if Rose is there. Of course, she isn’t, but Maggie ends up seducing the boss, and Rose arrives back home just in time to see it. The two of them get into a horrible fight, and Rose’s boss drops Maggie off at the train station, where she decides to go to Florida to live with her long lost grandmother played by Shirley MacLaine. After Maggie leaves, Rose quits her job and starts her own dog walking business while falling in love with another lawyer from her old job played by Mark Feuerstein.
Toni Collette is fantastic in that emotional yet practical Rose and gives the best performance of her career. The same can be said for Cameron Diaz, who’s turns in lighter fare like Charlie’s Angels along with the occasional darker role Vanilla Sky have not shown her ability. Shirley MacLaine was great as always, making you forget her somewhat kooky off screen persona. These three performances and all of the supporting characters add up to make a brilliant realistic take on the so called chick flick.
“In Her Shoes” has a darker, smarter tone than many of the standard chick flicks. More chick flicks should add up like this film, taking less of the standard plot line recycled over and over in Hollywood today.