POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE
Release Date: September 14, 1990
Starring: Meryl Streep, Shirley
MacLaine, Dennis Quaid, Gene
Hackman, & Richard Dreyfus
Runtime: Approx 100 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Mike Nichols
Producer: Mike Nichols & John Calley
Writer: Carrie Fisher NOVEL BY: Carrie
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While working on a movie, actress Suzanne Vale experiences a drug overdose and is brought to a hospital rehabilitation unit. Once Suzanne checks out, she is informed by her agent that she can only return to the set if she consents to her mother staying with her as guardian for the duration of the movie.
Suzanne agrees to the arrangement, but the mother/daughter problems they've had through the years soon begin to re-surface. Problems like: the mother overshadowing her daughter; the daughter unable to break off and be herself; the mother telling daughter how to run her life; and, the mother wants her daughter to do well, but not better than she. For example, when Doris throws a coming-home party to celebrate Suzanne's release from the drug clinic and asks her to sing a song, wouldn't you know that mom has to upstage the action with her own song.
Themes of co-dependency and living out each other's lives are further developed as daughter's drug problem is shown to be connected with her mother's drinking problem, which eventually puts Doris in the hospital when she gets loaded and runs the car into a tree. All these crises come to a head when Suzanne tells her grandmother to shut up, and a heartfelt talk between mom and daughter ensues.
On the one hand, the interplay between mother and daughter is humorous and insightful (both often talk at the same time without listening to the other). It is a good "slice-of-life" script, which is why the film merits three stars. The issues of coming to terms with crippling, dysfunctional family patterns are clearly shown, as are the hurt and misunderstanding that exists between the generations. These are real problems that many parents and siblings go through these days.
However, POSTCARDS may have too much reality and not enough entertainment. In fact, the illusions that the production hands create with Suzanne's movie sets are more entertaining or amusing than some of her snappy lines of dialogue. For example, when a fellow movie actor tells Suzanne, "I think I love you;" there's a pause, then the reply, "When will you know for sure?"
Anyone really interested in these issues should perhaps instead read "My Mother/My Self," or any of the other self-help books currently flooding the market. Unfortunately, some 35-40 obscenities and profanities occur, as well as implied promiscuity, an instance of effeminacy, substance abuse, and sexual innuendo.
In the end, Susan does reclaim her independence and self-hood. In this regard, the movie comes to the right conclusion by focusing on relationships as the key to recovery and restoration. Christians know, however, that complete restoration can be found only in Jesus Christ.
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