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In Her Shoes’ a pretty comfortable fit

Courtney Wilson | Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Based on the best-selling novel by Jennifer Weiner, “In Her Shoes” follows the story of two starkly different sisters and their journeys to self-discovery.

It might sound like just another chick-flick, but such an assessment is only half true. While it is a female-oriented film, it is also much deeper than most chick-flicks.

“In Her Shoes” progresses further than most into such sensitive subjects as the female struggle for self-actualization, the importance of family and the eternal bonds of sisterhood.

On the surface, the movie might appear to be fairly standard, but it ultimately proves itself to be a female empowering drama rooted in commitment to family and real life love.

Two siblings, Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and Rose Feller (Toni Collette) are more dissimilar than anyone could imagine, but are united in their love for expensive footwear. Beyond this, however, they have depended on each other ever since the loss of their young, mentally unstable mother.

Maggie is trapped in a chronic state of adolescence. An irresponsible slob who can’t hold a job, she gets by on her good looks, promiscuity and the hospitality of others. Even more serious, she has a learning disability, which proves to be her biggest obstacle.

Her sister Rose is the ugly duckling of the two. A frumpy workaholic lawyer, she is constantly forced to clean up the mess of Maggie’s mistakes. Rose’s biggest struggle is her hopeless outlook towards the future and her numerous insecurities.

Maggie, booted out of her father’s house by her “evil stepmother,” moves in with her older sister. A kleptomaniac, Maggie steals everything from her sister’s money and shoes to her ever-so-hunky boss and latest love interest.

When Maggie’s unrelenting behavior and seemingly calculated act of betrayal drives Rose to the point of a breakdown, the massive rift between the two exceeds all expectation for swift repair. Rose throws Maggie out of her home and, for a time, out of her life.

Maggie heads to Florida to milk the affections of her long estranged grandmother. During this time, Rose is given enough space to explore her own needs, and unexpectedly finds a genuine love interest in her retreat.

Ella (Shirley MacLaine, “Terms of Endearment”), the grandmother, welcomes Maggie with open arms. She becomes a sort of life coach for her granddaughter, pushing Maggie toward self-discovery and personal improvement. Through Ella, Maggie finds the unexpected inspiration she needs to get her life together and patch things up with her sister.

Cameron Diaz’s performance is not quite what might be expected from the perky actress, but is still quite possibly the best role of her career. Diaz seems fully aware that Maggie will not be the favored sister and plays her scalawag character all out.

Still, Diaz is never remiss to shake her booty on camera, and that she does as she sashays her way out of trouble and develops into a much more likeable character. While the part could have been played by any other cliché party girl actress, the surprisingly strong performance from Diaz proves much more satisfying.

In fact, the acting is better than expected across-the-board, as actress Toni Collette brings an emotionally charged, true to life performance to her character.

If “In Her Shoes” is a chick flick, then it’s a good, emotionally intense one. Containing the essentials of any fiery female fiction, including love, deception, self-acceptance and of course shoes, this film leaves no subject to spare. Ladies, bring a tissue to this one.