Projections - Movie Reviews

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

I thought this was going to be a fun, girly relationship film; instead it's a look at an overly dramatic mother and daughter team, who take turns having hissy fits.

Based on Rebecca Wells' 1996 book and directed by first timer Callie Khouri (award winning screen writer of Thelma and Louise) it tells the story of Southern belle Vivi (Ellen Burstyn) and the rocky bond with her New York based daughter Sidda (Sandra Bullock).

Sidda, a famous playwright gives an interview to Time Magazine where she says that the problems in her life can be traced back to her mother.  When Vivi reads the article, she throws a fit and cuts her daughter out of her life which she demonstrates by cutting Sidda out of family pictures and mailing the mutilated photographs to her.

The women scream at each other over the phone, hang up on one another and mail insults back and forth until Vivi's Ya-Ya friends intercede.

They call themselves the "Ya Ya Sisterhood" and are made up of Nicie (Shirley Knight), Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan), and Caro (Maggie Smith).  Their little group has a ritual where they put on ridiculous hats and repeat silly sayings while standing in a circle pledging to support one another no matter what.

The three Ya Yas kidnap Sidda from New York and bring her to the family cabin in Louisiana so they can bring about a reconciliation between Sidda and her mom.  They think that revealing Vivi's secret past will explain her behavior and all will be forgiven.

What we learn through those pesky flashbacks, is that Vivi (played by Ashley Judd as the younger woman) was an alcoholic that had huge mood swings.  She was either fun and child-like or depressed and neglectful toward both her children and husband.

It's understandable that people have dependencies, but the annoying thing here is that Vivi's alcoholism and tantrums are so readily accepted by both her husband (played by James Garner to the elder Vivi) and her friends.

No one is very likable here.  The men (Garner and Angus MacFadyan who plays Sidda's fiancé) are week and overly tolerant of the women's bad behavior, and the women are self-absorbed and strident.  This is one Sisterhood that I can live without.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

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