CINEMA: by Len PhillipsNews Weekly
In Her Shoes: Is Hollywood finally tiring of sleaze?
, November 5, 2005
reviews In Her Shoes.Madonna, the other day, almost came out and said that the kinds of things she has been doing on stage these past 20 to 25 years may actually have been morally wrong and corrupting.
If not that, then what do you make of where she is quoted as saying that "the beast is the modern world that we live in!"?
"The material world. The physical world. The world of illusion, that we think is real. We live for it, we're enslaved by it. And it will ultimately be our undoing," Madonna said. All this is in her new documentary, I'm Going To Tell You A Secret
Going further, she warns people that they "are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behaviour".
Of this I have nothing to say other than the obvious, which is that 47 is a pretty late age to reach maturity.Social disasters
I mention this only by way of an introduction to another film of somewhat more substance, a film showing yet another flicker that the social disasters visited on the world by the 1960s may be starting to fade.In Her Shoes
is a film of discovery in which a very lost Cameron Diaz finds solace and peace in giving up her alcoholic ways and succession of one-night stands, finding happiness in the bosom of her long-lost grandmother whose very existence she had been deprived of by her father, who begs for forgiveness at film's end.
If you think this is pretty trashy, it is; but Hollywood has been packaging such stuff for a very long time and knows how to do it well. So, if you can get past some of the bumps, you can enjoy this film for what it is: a night out in Fantasyland.
But here is the deal. Cameron Diaz is the dyslexic younger sister of Toni Collette. She is excessively pretty and knows her way round bars and men.
Toni is a lawyer in a very up-market Philadelphia law firm and is as plain as her sister is pretty. She brings home one of the best-looking men in the firm who is thereupon seduced by the younger sister. Toni finds them in bed together, and the great sisterly relationship that has survived everything till then is finally sundered.
This is the premise that gets the story going. Toni finally lays it on the line to her sister, that all of her drinking and sex will provide her with no lasting comfort, and that there are deeper values, and a living wage, that will forever elude her if she persists in her ways.
Since there is no one more dissipated than Cameron Diaz's character, it is hard not to agree. Whether there is a more general point being made, which is that it is okay to drink and fornicate as much as you like as long as you also have a full-time job, I cannot tell.
Suffice to say that Cameron finds her granny, goes cold turkey on the booze and gives up on the men. The grandmother, having the worldly wisdom of an age now gone, sees a troubled girl and knows just what to do.
Meanwhile, Toni Collette, having seen her man with her sister, quits the law firm and takes up a career as a dog-walker for the rich. Is this the solution to sleeping with men without commitment? Leave your career behind and find the most dead-end job you can get?
No it's not, but sneaking up on the outside is a fellow lawyer from her old firm who has been smitten with her from the very moment he first laid eyes on her.
Look, that is what was on the screen, and those were the words and actions the scriptwriter asked this fellow to play out, so who are we to complain? They get married, and that's the important part, especially if we are going to have the happy ending.Bleak experience
So you might see things moving in the right sort of direction since the movie does make playing the field seem a pretty bleak sort of experience for any young woman. And I think that somewhere in this film there is some such message trying to find its way out.
But what difference will a film like this make to our culture other than to remind us that there is the widest variety of possibilities for young girls, even the possibility of finding a fellow who will love her and with whom she will be able to spend the rest of her life building a family?
The film does depict that as the one true path and perhaps, as I say, there is some very dim indication that things might find their way into more films.
But it is like Madonna. Millions of young women have learned their sexual ways from the Material Girl.
However, if Madonna has her way, her only daughter, now about to turn eight, will never be among them.