(out of 5)
Imagine if All That Heaven Allows was remade as a contemporary story, with the wealthy housewife being a divorcee instead of a widow and turning to an aging drunk baseball player for comfort instead of a strapping young gardener, and you basically have the bare bones of this film’s plot. Joan Allen plays the woman in question, a manic depressive who indulges in drinking and bitchiness after her husband leaves her for his Swedish secretary and she is left alone to raise their four daughters. The girls, each one petty and annoying in her own individual way (anal retentive, ambitious career girl, anorexic ballerina and confused desperate virgin), deal with their sudden broken family status while Allen enjoys the new intrusion into her life of the has-been sports star (Kevin Costner) from down the street. The stars are in superb form, aided well by the four young women playing the daughters, but the script meanders with no place in particular to go, and the catty fighting among all the women never produces any satisfying resolution before a very stupid and illogical plot twist in the film’s eleventh hour. Only Joan Allen could make such a hero out of a character who constantly threatens to be so detestable, and she’s marvelous to watch, while Costner hasn’t gotten such good use out of his hangdog personality since Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham, but we’re never really sure why we should be expected to care about these people in the first place.
Directed by Mike Binder
Screenplay by Mike Binder
Cinematography by Richard Greatrex
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Production Design by Chris Roope
Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott