In Her Shoes (2005)

(On TV, November 2015)  One of the advantages of going back in time and catching moderately-popular movies from a decade ago is that they can help fills a few gaps along the way.  If I had seen In Her Shoes back in 2005, then Cameron Diaz’s similar turn in 2011’s Bad Teacher may not have been so surprising.  It also helps answer the question “What has Curtis Hanson done since L.A. Confidential?” and “Does Toni Colette look better with or without glasses?” (Answer: “With”, but then again I’m always answering that.)  Otherwise, the most noteworthy thing about In Her Shoes is getting further proof that a romantic melodrama adapted from a book often feels far less formulaic than similar original screenplays.  There’s an added depth and complexity to the story that comes straight from the novel, along with a number of literary devices that for some reason seem more common in adapted screenplays.  (Reading a synopsis of the novel does help in finding out that the screenplay isn’t above some compression and simplification, but that’s how these things go.)  Balancing heartfelt sentiment about long-lost family relationship with sibling rivalry and more straightforward romantic subplots, In Her Shoes doesn’t seem like much, but it lands its emotional beat honestly, takes an expansive left turn past its first act and features a few good performances by Diaz, Colette and acting-her-age Shirley MacLaine.  Hanson’s direction gets the point across effectively, and if the film does feel a bit too long at times, it definitely ends well enough.

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