In Her Shoes
Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz) is hot, knows it, and knows everybody else knows it. The guy she makes out with in a bathroom stall at a reunion knows it. The guys who buy her drinks in bars know it. Her older sister, straight-laced lawyer Rose (Toni Collette), knows it. Even Jim (Richard Burgi), Rose’s first romantic tryst in a long, long time—so long that Rose takes a photo of him sleeping in her bed as evidence—knows it the first time he lays eyes on her. So he really should know better than to hang around after he stops by Rose’s Philadelphia apartment looking for her and instead finds Maggie wearing a shirt, panties, and predatory grin. Of course, leave he doesn’t, and, of course, Rose just happens to come home—igniting an cataclysmic sibling fight that ousts Maggie from Rose’s place and causes the elder sister to take the proverbial stock of her life.
Don’t let In Her Shoes’s cloying trailer or its source in Jennifer Weiner’s chick-lit best seller make you dismiss it as just another estrogen-fest. Screenwriter Susannah Grant has already proven adept with complex adult women in 28 Days and Erin Brockovich, and director Curtis Hanson returns to the small-scale intimacy of his overlooked character study Wonder Boys to craft a rare bird: an adult drama that doesn’t insult adult intelligence. Shoes doesn’t break new ground—and isn’t trying to—and it doesn’t pretend to sidestep sentimentality, but it also confronts the messy interpersonal turmoil of a family, particularly one that believes it has survived a tragedy without any visible scars.
Rose and Maggie’s mentally unstable mother died when the girls were very young, and their otherwise caring father prevented them from knowing that their maternal grandmother, Ella (Shirley MacLaine, who looks plumb ecstatic not to be in another Bewitched fiasco), had tried to stay in touch with them over the years. Maggie accidentally finds Ella’s address—when rifling through her father and stepmother’s house for money to steal—and flees to Grandma’s Florida retirement community. Rose, meanwhile, takes her own sabbatical, quitting her job to walk dogs and starting a warm relationship with all-around good guy Simon (Mark Feuerstein). Both the Feller women—and, eventually, the people around them—know something is amiss between them, however. And though by the final reel, Maggie and Rose tread the metaphorical mile clumsily alluded to by the title, it’s handled with such unmannered sincerity that even such clichés feel almost refreshing.