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In Her Shoes is a 2005 American comedy-drama film based on the novel of the same name by Jennifer Weiner. It is directed by Curtis Hanson with an adapted screenplay by Susannah Grant and stars Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine. The film focuses on the relationship between two sisters and their grandmother.


Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and Rose Feller (Toni Collette) are sisters with nothing in common but their shoe size. They were raised by their father Michael (Ken Howard) and stepmother (Candice Azzara) after their mother died in a car accident. Rose is the eldest; a plain and serious lawyer who is protective of Maggie despite her flaws. Maggie is a free spirit who is unable to hold a steady job (due to her difficulties with reading) and turns to alcohol and men for emotional and financial support. Rose grudgingly allows Maggie to move in with her in her Rittenhouse Squaremarker, Philadelphia apartment when their stepmother throws her out of the house. Their already difficult relationship ends, however, when Rose catches Maggie in bed with Jim (Richard Burgi), her boyfriend. Maggie subsequently disappears from Rose's life.

A few days before, while secretly looking through her father's desk for money, Maggie discovered a bundle of old greeting cards containing cash. She was astonished to discover that the cards were addressed to both her and Rose and were from their grandmother Ella (Shirley MacLaine). Now, homeless and without job prospects, Maggie travels to Delray Beach, Floridamarker to find her and hopefully a new source of income.

When Ella first hears from Maggie, she invites her to stay in her home, partially out of guilt for abandoning her responsibilities as a grandmother. However, as time passes, Ella discovers Maggie trying to take money from her. Maggie asks Ella to finance an acting career for her; Ella agrees to match her salary dollar-for-dollar if she accepts a job with the assisted living section of her grandmother's retirement community. Meanwhile, Rose has decided to quit her job, become a dog-walker, and date Simon Stein (Mark Feuerstein) whom she had previously ignored. They become engaged.

Maggie befriends one of her patients, a blind retired professor of English literature (Norman Lloyd), who has asked Maggie to read Elizabeth Bishop to him. She does so, but with great difficulty. After asking if she is dyslexic, the professor encourages Maggie to continue reading to him while offering emotional support to her. Maggie finds a friend in the professor who does not ridicule her difficulties and helps her to improve. Maggie's confidence grows not only with reading but with her self-image. She also becomes friendly with the residents of the retirement community. Maggie discovers a livelihood that is needed among the elderly women: a personal clothing shopper, an activity for which Maggie shows talent. Ella offers to run the financial aspects of the business. In the process, they become close and resolve their past history.

Meanwhile, problems erupt when Rose refuses to tell Simon about her sister because she is scared that Simon will hate her. Rose sees Jim at a party and whines to him about how he ruined her relationship with her sister and tells him why she can't tell Simon about it. Simon witnesses this and breaks up with her. Rose continues to wear the engagement ring.

Ella secretly contacts Rose and asks her to visit. Rose is excited to hear from her long-lost grandmother, but her pleasure quickly sours when she arrives to find Maggie. Ella reveals that their mother's car 'accident' was suicide (their mother struggled with bipolar disorder and refused to take her medication). Ella never recovered from her death and never resolved her feelings towards her granddaughters, whom she felt contributed to her daughter's difficulties. The three women bond and resolve their complicated past. At Rose's wedding, Ella also reconciles with Michael and Maggie reads a poem to Rose as a wedding gift.



Critical reception

In Her Shoes has received generally positive reviews from critics. In the review of Rotten Tomatoes reported 74% of the positive reviews, based on 149 reviews. In another review, Metacritic reported 60% of positive reviews, based on 36 reviews. Rex Reed in the The New York Observer calls In Her Shoes "pure joy" and "a movie to cherish", arguing that Shirley MacLaine has "found her finest role since the Oscar-winning Terms of Endearment [...] funny and poignant, she uses abundant humanity and smart psychology to great advantage, lending her knowledge to the other actors generously." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times states that the film "starts out with the materials of an ordinary movie and becomes a rather special one. The emotional payoff at the end is earned, not because we see it coming as the inevitable outcome of the plot, but because it arrives out of the blue and yet, once we think about it, makes perfect sense. It tells us something fundamental and important about a character, it allows her to share that something with those she loves, and it does it in a way we could not possibly anticipate. Like a good poem, it blindsides us with the turn it takes right at the end."

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle argues, on the other hand, that the film "is almost a true statement, almost an honest rendering of a sibling relationship and almost not a sentimental Hallmark card of a movie. But it compromises with itself and ends up in a limbo of meaninglessness, with writer Susannah Grant and director Curtis Hanson strenuously pretending to have told one kind of story, when actually they've told quite another." Carino Chocano of the Los Angeles Times concurs, calling the film "a curious movie, hovering for upward of two hours between light and dark, truth and fake uplift, menace and mollycoddling."


Shirley MacLaine

Toni Collette

Cameron Diaz


  1. The first poem Maggie is asked to read is One art by Elizabeth Bishop
  2. i carry your heart with me by E. E. Cummings
  3. In Her Shoes @ Rotten Tomatoes
  4. Shirley's Best Since Terms
  5. Chicago Sun-Times review
  6. San Francisco Chronicle review
  7. Los Angeles Times review

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