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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Soundtrack)
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Paperback)
Thelma And Louise

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Review

Directed By: Callie Khouri (directorial debut...she wrote Thelma And Louise).
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Ashley Judd, Caitlin Wachs, Maggie Smith, Katy Selverstone, Mary Katherine Weiss, Shirley Knight, Kiersten Warren, Nicki Tschudi, Fionnula Flanagan, Jacqueline McKenzie, Alyssa May Gold, Sandra Bullock, Ron Eldard, James Garner , Boyd Kestner, Angus MacFadyen, Matthew Settle.

Synopsis: Vivi (Ellen Burstyn) & her eldest daughter Sidda (Sandra Bullock) have been at war for years, but the relationship reaches a crisis point when Sidda is interviewed by TIME magazine. Sidda's new play is the toast of Manhattan, and flush with success, Sidda conveniently forgets that whatever she tells TIME she's also telling the world. Cut to Vivi reading her copy of TIME and bellowing: "How could she? She was supposed to be 'the good one'!"

Vivi's husband (James Garner) cannot calm her down, so he defers to her three bosom buddies (Fionnula Flanagan, Shirley Knight, & Maggie Smith). These three have kept Vivi's secrets for decades, but they decide that the time has come to clear the air, so they concoct an "intervention." They kidnap Sidda, with the help of her fiancé (Angus MacFadyen), and bring her back home to Louisiana.

They show Sidda a huge scrapbook which contains "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," photographs, letters, and other mementos which track the four friends from adolescence to middle age. The heart of the film is its flashbacks, from the excitement of the Atlanta premiere of Gone With The Wind, to the romance of World War II, to the stresses and strains of parenthood. The plum in this bowl of cherries is Ashley Judd, luminous & heart-breaking by turns as Vivi in her prime.

Review: Let's cut right to the chase - The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a "chick flick." All of its main characters are women, the theme of the film is female friendship, and gals are the core target audience. So the questions for the reviewer are these: Is this a good "chick flick"? How does it stack up against others in this genre? Is this a film that men should see or simply avoid?

Here are the answers of one critic: Yes, this is a very good "chick flick," one that can hold its head high as a member of this genre, and yes, men should definitely see this film.

Sidda lives in a world that is very different from her mother's world. Sidda is a career woman, a successful New York playwright. She lives in a small, classy apartment with a very cute guy, but they've been together forever and she's still afraid to marry him. In a fit of pique, she tells us she been "hitting the snooze button on her biological clock" for years.

Sidda has spent these years in psychotherapy, and she is responsible for a play that exposes "the truth" about her mother's alcoholic rages, but her memories are the memories of a child. The 'truth" she knows is only a small part of Vivi's whole story.

Vivi's life is "the road not taken" by Sidda. Vivi had professional dreams and aspirations in her youth, but she decided to stay at home, marry a local boy, and raise a family. For better and for worse, in Vivi's world that decision means living her life surrounded by women and children. The men, like Sidda's father, live their lives in a separate sphere, with minimal overlap. But every time Vivi questions her fate, there are men to set her straight: priests to chastise her, doctors to medicate her, shopkeepers to sell her booze.

This is Callie Khouri's directorial debut. She is best known, of course, for her Oscar-winning screenplay Thelma And Louise. YA-YA has the same combination of laughter and tears. What gives these films their energy is the genuine camaraderie between their women characters. These are real women who take chances and make decisions and pay dearly for their mistakes. No one dies in YA-YA, but vivacious Vivi does come close. More than anything else, it's the love and support and emotional "there-ness" of her sisterhood that gets her back on her feet.

From what we can tell, Sidda is too busy with her career to have a sisterhood. Mmmm. There's something to think about here, isn't there?

Conclusion: Add The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood to the top of the "chick flick" genre along with How To Make An American Quilt, The Joy Luck Club, and of course, Thelma & Louise.

Jan's rating = 4 out of 5

Copyright© Written By: Jan Lisa Huttner
Jan Lisa Huttner is the creative force behind FILMS FOR TWO: The Online Guide for Busy Couples. Check them out at

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