Postcards from the Edge (1990)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Postcards from the Edge</strong> (1990)

(In French, On Cable TV, November 2018) There’s quite a bit of metafictional context about Postcards from the Edge that make it a fascinating movie for those steeped in Hollywood history. For one thing, it’s not just a movie about a Hollywood actress with addiction issues trying to get back on the right path despite the domineering influence of her mother—it’s also adapted from an autobiographical novel from Carrie Fisher that many saw as a roman-à-clef about her relationship with her own mother Debbie Reynolds. (Fisher herself maintained that it was a novel for a reason, but there are substantial differences between the inward-driven, stylistically experimental novel and the far more conventional film whose script she adapted herself.) Taking all of this rich material and giving it to seasoned actors’ director Mike Nichols seems like a natural fit, even more so when he’s able to count on an impressive gallery of capable actors, staring with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in the central mother/daughter roles. I don’t particularly like MacLaine in general, but she’s quite good here and Streep has seldom been as funny as in this role. The Hollywood satire circa 1990 is likely to remain more interesting than the familiar dramatic material, but there’s enough here for everyone—including musical numbers. Postcards from the Edge is almost a piece of Hollywood history the more you know about the business and the history, but it’s strong enough to be interesting even to casual viewers.

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