Steel Magnolias (1989)

HERBERT ROSS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 1989.  TriStar Pictures, Rastar Films.  Screenplay by , based on his play.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1989Golden 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 () and the owner of the beauty parlor where they all meet (). 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.

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