11/07/2007

Tara Road

Director: Gillies MacKinnon

Let’s hope that author Maeve Binchy feels that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; otherwise, Nancy Meyers could have some serious explaining to do for The Holiday which is frightfully similar to the premise of Binchy’s bestselling Oprah pick Tara Road. Screenwriters Cynthia Cidre and Shane Connaughton adapt the book for director Gillies MacKinnon’s low-key but beautifully shot film about two women who are going through personal crises and agree to swap their homes on both sides of the Atlantic. (I told you it sounded familiar!) Four months after her beloved only fifteen-year-old son dies in a tragic motorcycle accident on his birthday, grieving Connecticut mother Marilyn (Andie MacDowell) finds herself at odds with her husband when she refuses to go with him on a Hawaiian vacation to escape their troubles. Marilyn's life takes a new turn when she receives a chance phone call. Ria (Olivia Williams) is a loyal Irish wife and mother still madly in love with her husband Danny and she finds herself living out one of life’s cruelest clich├ęs when Danny (Iain Glen) announces that he’s leaving his family because his much younger girlfriend is pregnant with his baby. Finding it hard to keep her emotions in check and stop herself from begging the man she still maddeningly loves to change his mind, Ria puts a phone call into Marilyn’s real estate husband only to find herself pleasantly surprised when Marilyn answers the phone and agrees to let Ria exchange homes for the summer. Predictably, lessons are learned and new friends are made when the two strangers begin to draw strength from within that they didn’t even know they had in foreign lands and while it never really persuades us that it’s anything more than a stereotypical “chick flick,” the talented actresses emote well and make it easy for viewers to share in their plight.