Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Movie Review: "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002)

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Movie"Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"
Director: Callie Khouri
Year: 1957
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Professional writer Siddalee Walker (Sandra Bullock) does an interview with Time Magazine that doesn't portray her mother Vivi (Ellen Burnstyn) in the best light. This upsets Vivi and causes a bitter conflict between her and her daughter. In an effort to correct the situation, Vivi's lifelong friends Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan), Caro (Maggie Smith), and Necie (Shirley Knight), affectionately known as the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,  abduct Siddalee and share their past with her in an effort to help her understand her mother better and hopefully get them to make amends.  

Can one family seriously have this much unnecessary drama??

This film features the dramatic tale of the relationship between a mother and a daughter who are not exactly on the best of terms. When Siddalee Walker, played well enough by Sandra Bullock, opens up to a reporter about her rough childhood, her very self-centered, very Southern mother Vivi, played by Ellen Burnstyn, absolutely freaks out, even going as far as removing Siddalee from her will because she is so angry with her. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood then abducts her and takes her to her hometown in an effort to try and teach Siddalee about her mother's life and the tragedy she faced, but we're not sure or convinced its much of an excuse. Much of the story is shown through flashbacks and Ashley Judd fills the part of Vivi in her younger years. Filmmakers give Vivi some background depth that makes her likable before really delving into the atrocities she committed as a parent. It's people like her that should not have kids and there are scenes where she genuinely seems to despise her children. She is an alcoholic that beats them severely with a belt at one point. Though the anger she has bottled up inside of her and the pain she seems to be going through is palpably felt by the audience, we don't understand why she refused to simply move on and save herself and those around her, including her kids, years and decades of heartache. We get that Vivi has emotional issues and understand and sympathize with her when her true love died in the war, but even then, she merely settled for the man she wound up marrying and constantly lets him know just how miserable she is with him. Through all this, Vivi never seems to apologize for any of her actions and really had no right to be mad at her daughter for telling the truth in the first place.

There is nothing wrong with any of the acting in this film, and in fact, most of it is quite good. Many of the characters are also very likable, especially the three Ya-Ya friends, mainly aided by an incredible performance by queen Maggie Smith. But despite all its good acting and what could have been a compelling drama, it's just not the kind of story we can abide. The basic message about forgetting the bad things that happened in life despite them being horribly, terribly traumatic to others and continuing to focus on the good just because it's easier to suppress your issues as opposed to confronting your demons and dealing with them we just cannot get behind. In its effort to be secretly dramatic and emotionally powerful, it turns into a boring, slowly paced, run of the mill movie with a lot of wasted potential.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.


  1. The book I remember being decent but the movie was meh. I agree with your viewpoints though. Horrible things happen to people everyday but wrong doesn't justify wrong.

    1. I didn't even realize there was a book! The horrible things that happened in their lives were horrible, but Vivi was just not a great person overall.