Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1989. TriStar Pictures, Rastar Films. Screenplay by Robert Harling, based on his play. Cinematography by John A. Alonzo. Produced by Ray Stark. Music by Georges Delerue. Production Design by Gene Callahan, Edward Pisoni. Costume Design by Julie Weiss. Film Editing by Paul Hirsch. Academy Awards 1989. Golden Globe Awards 1989.
This beautifully heartfelt adaptation of Robert Harling’s play is full of memorable moments, some hilarious and some heartbreaking. An ensemble piece, it centres around the volatile relationship between an overprotective mother (Sally Field) and her precariously ill daughter (Julia Roberts), both of whose actions seem to be a constant attempt to cross swords with each other. Surrounding them are an elegant society matron (Olympia Dukakis), a feisty widow (Shirley MacLaine), a shy newcomer (Daryl Hannah) and the owner of the beauty parlor where they all meet (Dolly Parton). Perfectly cast, the film comes well to life when all these great talents are assembled in one room: Dukakis is beautifully classy, MacLaine hysterical and Parton brings that wonderful southern-fried charm that seems to come so naturally to her very charismatic performances. Audiences have long passed it off as another ‘chick flick’, but it’s actually done with great strength and intelligence and avoids being manipulative. Roberts made this film one year before her Pretty Woman stardom.