POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990) 

CAST
Meryl Streep
Shirley MacLaine
Dennis Quaid
Gene Hackman
Richard Dreyfus
Annette Bening
Rob Reiner
Oliver Platt

DIRECTED BY
Mike Nichols
PURCHASE


Movie




Time: 101 Minutes
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy

AWARDS: Academy Award nominations for Best Actress (Streep) and Best Song.

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE is one of my favorites comedies. I watch it whenever it comes on television because no matter how many times I've seen it, it still makes me laugh out loud...and that's a rare treat these days. Streep and MacLaine are two of cinema's most gifted actresses and they dive into this film with complete abandon. I had no idea Streep could be so funny, which should not have come as a surprise. Like their characters, they couldn't be more different as people and performers, but they share a bond that can't be broken – immense talent.

Streep plays Suzanne Vale, an actress as famous for her roles as for being the daughter of cinema legend, Doris Mann (MacLaine). She tries to do good work, but her drug habit gets in the way. It's the only way she can get through life and escape her mother's shadow. Of course, her poor performances (and erratic on set behavior) are ruining her reputation and after an accidental drug overdose, she finds herself detoxing in a drug clinic and completely unemployable.

In order to get insured to work on her next film, she has to submit to drug-testing and move in with her mother. It's the last straw for a 40-year-old sober woman and she can't even take an aspirin to numb the pain. Streep is wonderfully funny and vulnerable as Suzanne begins to finally deal with her life and take responsibility for it. For the first time she has to make conscious decisions and she knows doing it without drugs will make her stronger, but that doesn't make it easier.

Suzanne tries to get on with her life, but it seems like everyone is trying to keep her down. After only one day, the entire staff of her new movie has something to say about her performance or her appearance – none of it good. The man who saved her life and then professes to be in love with her, turns out to be a real creep. Jack (Quaid) is not only a liar, but a total whore as well, sleeping around with everything that moves. This is just another episode in a long line of humiliations she has to go throw to discover the person she ultimately wants to be. In the end, Suzanne finds a friend in the last place she ever thought to look – at home. It's not as trite as it sounds. This is a biting piece about a woman growing up, long after she should have been there. Streep plays it straight and that's what makes it ever more hilarious...and touching.

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"I am so glad that I got sober now so I can be hyper-conscious for this series of humiliations."

MacLaine is fantastic as Doris – dancer, singer, diva extraordinaire. As a woman who worked with cinema icons, she has first hand experience with the type. Doris is always "on", because she has no idea who she is when she's off. Life is a stage and she's going to be the brightest star on it. She wants her daughter to be a success, just not as successful as her. Not only does Suzanne have to deal with a mother who's competing with her, but one who refuses to admit she's also an alcoholic. Neither of them knows how to please the other though by the end they do come to accept one another. Their scenes together bristle with an energy filled with frustration, anger, protectiveness and love that most mothers and daughters are only too familiar with.

This is a witty, clever and funny movie not because people are falling down and emitting strange sounds from bodily orifices, but because it's about life and the people you have to live with, whether you want them there or not. This could be any mother/daughter relationship. The fact that they are actresses, just makes it more entertaining. Streep and MacLaine know how to create great characters and you'll remember these ladies for a long time. The fact that it's based on screenwriter Carrie Fisher's own experiences makes it even more delicious.



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