"Something to Talk About"
Opened: August 4, 1995 | Rated: PG-13
"Something to Talk About" is like a Tennessee Williams play after a couple years of therapy.
It has the unhappy couple in a well-to-do Southern family, it has the overbearing father, the "What will people think?" mother and the sub-plot all the characters have a stake in (it's a horse show here).
But in this story the tumultuous couple (Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid) are headed not for a rocky reunion, but an amicable divorce. Welcome to the '90s.
"Something to Talk About" is full of top-shelf performances. It's a refreshing kind of character study -- instead of watching a woman unravel, we watch her pull herself together after catching her husband Eddie (Quaid) with another woman.
Every part of the story is from Grace's (Roberts) point of view. As Eddie offers stock apologies (and it really is the best he can do), Grace can see that their marriage is over. But she also recognizes the opportunity to start over if she can muster up the moxie to put herself ahead of the family¹s horse ranch, which is the source of much of her stress.
Roberts' Grace feels like a good friend and you find yourself cheering her on.
When she boils over at a society wives' meeting and asks if anyone else is sleeping with her husband, you applaud her for flying in the face of gossip.
When she stands up to her parents (Gena Rowlands and Robert Duvall) who want to sweep Eddie's affair under the rug, you feel her frustration.
And you are reminded that marriage is important to Grace and her family with frequent shots in which their wedding rings dominate the frame.
The story is predictable, but in exactly the way you want it to be, like when Grace confronts her mother about looking the other way all the times her father was unfaithful. You know her mother is going to go home and lock daddy out, but Rowlands and Duvall are marvelous and make the scene seem fresh.
The few real problems with "Something to Talk About" are insignificant. For example, the camera work looks like an insurance commercial. This is a distraction at times, especially during the climactic horse-jumping competition where the regal nature of the sport is lost in tight shots, but it doesn't diminish the connection the audience feels with these deeply-developed characters.
Roberts, Quaid, Duvall, Rowlands and Kyra Sedgwick, who plays Grace's spirited sister, all turn in very personal performances that make "Something to Talk About" something to see.
This review appeared in the Daily Republic, Fairfield, CA.
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