Release Date: August 3rd, 2005 (NYC-Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by Sony Pictures Classics.
The Cast: Embeth Davidtz, Ben McKensie, Alessandro Nivola, Amy Adams, Celia Weston
Directed by Phil Morrison
BASIC PREMISE: Madeleine (Davidtz), a Chicago art dealer, travels with her husband George (Nivola) to meet her in-laws in North Carolina.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This is not a film that is focused on plot; it is much more about character--and there is plenty of it. When Madeleine meets her husband's in-laws, that is when the film gets really engaging and allows for southern and northern culture to clash in many ways. There is a sharp contrast between Madeleine's quietness and elegance compared to her in-laws loudness and trashiness. Fortunately, there is no silly humor that even reminds anyone of Meet the Parents or Monster-in-Law because this is primarily a drama. There are a few moments of humor, though, especially regarding some strong art forms. It is a pleasant surprise to watch Amy Adam' give a very strong performance as a emotionally unbalanced sister-in-law. The cinematography very smooth and, at times, the music capture the feeling of the south. What really makes things work, though, are the quirky characters within George's family, many of which have their own idiosyncratic problems to bring to the table.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: What could have been a film ridden with stereotypes and insulting humor, is rather a very touching and even insightful film. The way the family's problems are gradually brought out to the open is very satisfying even if it is difficult to watch. Nobody is perfect and that is the true beauty of life. It is important to look beyond stereotypes and accept people for who they are. However, it is true that sometimes people pass judgment on somebody else too quickly simply because of what they are--not who they are. Overcoming these pre-judgments is definitely a step in the right direction.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: A surprisingly moving, well-directed and insightful film with interesting, engaging characters as well as a remarkably strong performance by Amy Adams.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "J" Menu