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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

1 rating: -3.0
A movie directed by Callie Khouri

Sidda Walker (Sandra Bullock), who is high on life--about to marry Connor (Angus MacFadyen) and flushed with success because her new play is about to open on Broadway--gives an unguarded interview to TIME Magazine. After reading the interview, Sidda's … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Director: Callie Khouri
Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Ya-Ya? No! No! Mothers, Daughters, and Roofies

  • Jun 27, 2003
Pros: good acting, Connor's Irish accent

Cons: story, strange flashbacks, predictable, blood sister scenes, too long

The Bottom Line: The bottom line still can't understand what the hell the Ya-Ya sisters were doing.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

My mom and I had been curious about seeing this mother-daughter chick flick for quite some time, so we decided to tune in when it aired on HBO the other day. The movie ranged from ridiculous to cheesy to boring and then back to cheesy. I expected more from a cast that included Maggie Smith and Ellen Burstyn.

The film starts out in Louisiana in the 1930s. A group of girls, led by Vivi Walker, sneaks out of their house in the middle of the night to perform a ritual inducting themselves into their invented cult-- the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Vivi presents the other three girls with crowns and Native American-esque names. Then they seal their pledge of loyalty with their blood. While I am usually in favor of free speech, in this age of AIDS, I think that filmmakers should think twice about including scenes where children cut themselves and exchange blood. Honestly, does this add anything to the movie except making the audience feel uneasy?

The film then moves to modern day New York where Sidda Walker (Sandra Bullock) is being interviewed by Time magazine before the opening of her new play. Sidda tells the reporter that her mother was unhappy with her life and abusive, but that Vivi had inspired all of Sidda's writing. When the article comes out, the reporter's portrait of Vivi Walker is extremely harsh, and she disowns her daughter. In a scene that is supposed to be funny but just seems unrealistic and silly, Vivi (Burstyn) goes through her house and throws away all the photos of her eldest daughter. She also cuts up photos of Sidda and sends them to her in the mail.

Connor (Angus MacFadyen), Sidda's doting, live-in boyfriend with an adorable Irish accent, really wants Sidda to repair her relationship with her mother. Sidda stubbornly refuses, and her mother also fights off the pleadings for reconciliation from her Ya-Ya posse. The feud begins to take its toll on Sidda and Connor's relationship.

The Ya-Ya sisters have aged gracefully into feisty old women. I thought the individual characters could have been better developed, but the ladies, who love their Bloody Marys, make a cute clique. Maggie Smith, who is finally allowed to play something other than a stuffy, old, British woman, does a fine job with the Louisiana accent.

Although it goes against the strict Ya-Ya code forbidding secrets, the three Ya-Yas who aren't Sidda's mother fly to New York to kidnap the young playwright. After spiking her drink with Roofies (aka "the date rape drug"), they bring Sidda to Louisiana. One of many plot holes is how they managed to transport an unconscious woman onto a plane, through the airport in Louisiana, and drive home. When she wakes up and realizes she has been kidnapped and drugged, Sidda does not seem nearly angry enough.

From here, the Ya-Yas reveal many secrets about Vivi's life that may lead to her daughter's forgiveness. However, Sidda tells us that she has been in therapy for years, so it doesn't make sense that she doesn't already understand her mother's pathology. Sidda learns some new information about her mother, but the movie's flashbacks tell us that she was old enough to understand most of it first hand.

There are three levels of flashback in this movie-- the Ya-Yas as children, the Ya-Yas as young women, and Sidda as a pre-teen. I kept waiting for someone to die, knowing that Bette Middler is one of the executive producers. The most interesting era for me was the earliest one since it dealt with issues of race in the South.

Ashley Judd takes the role of a vibrant, fascinating, tortured woman and somehow makes her bland and lifeless. Her acting style felt like a soap opera at times.

Besides, some of the flashbacks simply don't make sense. At one point, Sidda (the modern, Sandra Bullock version) opens a medicine cabinet and puts a dab of Noxzema on her face. As she looks in the mirror, she reminisces about a time when she danced around the kitchen with her mother as a child. Inexplicably, her nose had Noxzema on it then, as well. I didn't really understand the flashbacks to the beach when Sidda pretends to drown and Vivi pretends to save her, either.

Although she is the main character of the film, I felt that the character of Sidda was very flat. The movie implies that she feels inferior and unloved by her gorgeous mother (when is Sandra Bullock ever not "the plain one"?), but it would have been nice to see more of her life in New York rather than wasting time with pointless flashbacks.

Overall, the Ya-Ya Sisterhood had good intentions and a great cast, but wound up barely scratching the surface of the story while being excruciatingly slow. Like The Hours, this film took a complex novel about different generations of women, watered it down, and turned it into a bad movie.


Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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