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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Getting In Her Shoes

Published: October 21, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

I remember that when I saw the preview for In Her Shoes, I immediately assumed that it was the type of cookie-cutter movie that Id seen before, which contrasts the older, responsible sister, with the beautiful younger screw-up. And, in terms of plot, thats basically what this movie does.

But wait, stick with me. This movie actually takes the cutter and makes one hell of a cookie. Theres something about the way this movie unfolds that makes it a film you dont want to miss. The elder sister especially, Rose (Toni Collette), appeals to a wide audience. While a successful lawyer, she has self-esteem issues and a personal life that leaves something to be desired both of which make her very easy to relate to.

For instance, in the very beginning of the movie, she has a man in bed next to her and, because this sort of thing so rarely happens to her, she wants proof. So what does she do? Sneaking her digital camera out of her dresser drawer, she takes of picture of the sleeping guy. Unfortunately the phone rings just as shes doing so and she only captures a tiny corner of his face to show her friend, but its the thought that counts. And the thought is funny, a little sad, proud, a bit scientific and yet kind of cute. And thats Rose – shes the type of person that youd not only want to be friends with, but with whom you probably already are.

And then theres Maggie (Cameron Diaz) who, alternatively, has a booming personal life, in terms of sex and getting men to pay for her, but no job and no future. Shes still living at home with her father until her stepmother throws her out at the beginning of the film. Initially, Maggie reminded me of the type of person who peaked in high school and is still stuck in the mindset of a 17-year-old. In fact, the movie starts with her at her 10 year high school reunion, drunk and going at it with some guy in a bathroom stall. So yes, shes a brat, and yes, shes annoying but thats part of what makes her fairly realistic. The writers do a pretty good job of not making her exactly like the stereotyped younger sister. She is not the fun one that everybody loves. Plus, she has self-esteem issues as well, only they concern her intelligence and not her appearance.

The movie does not try to hide the fact that Maggie acts like a child or let her off the hook for it because shes pretty. When she discovers her long lost grandmother in Florida and decides to leech off of her because she has nowhere else to go, everyone in the old folks community knows exactly what type of person Maggie is. Her grandmother knows that she steals, and at one point flat-out tells her to grow up. To Maggies credit, she actually blossoms and becomes a better version of herself with the help of grandma and the other retirees. However, while Maggie learns how to be more like her older sister and Rose, in turn, lets loose and becomes more carefree, they do not make complete 180s;

they are still the same old Maggie and Rose, only more confident because theyve come into their own.

But what about the shoes? Perhaps you think theyre Maggies, as they are stylish and fun, but no. Its Roses closet that is full of gorgeous, expensive shoes. At one interesting point in the movie, Maggie asks Rose why she has all of these shoes that she never wears, saying that the shoes have no purpose, which makes sense. Rose responds that the shoes do something for her – that whenever she needs to do something for herself, she buys the shoes, because unlike clothes they always fit and always look good. Who cant relate to that idea?

And thats basically the point of this movie you can relate to one or possibly both of the sisters, especially if you have a sister yourself. Its a good, charming, witty movie, with the added bonus of a few nice references to Jews that feel like a Brandeis in-joke. But if you dont believe me, read the glowing The New York Times review and then go see this movie.