A Map of the World
Keep in mind that the novel this film is based on (written by Jane Hamilton) was an Oprah favorite. Therefore we go in knowing that the story is about some woman overcoming the curious fact that God decided to take a dump on her at a rather inopportune moment. Obviously, Oprah found the story empowering. Funny how just about anything is empowering when you already make $100 million a year.
The big dump comes in a couple of different forms for Alice Goodwin (Sigourney Weaver). First, she's putting on a bathing suit when Theresa Collins' (Julianne Moore) youngest child decides to walk out of the house and drown herself in the Goodwin's pond (Alice was watching the kids). Then, a little ratty boy and his ratty mother (Chloe Sevigny) accuse Alice of child abuse, and Alice is sent to jail to await trial.
Actually, Alice has more problems than guilt and child abuse accusations. She's got a daughter who seems incapable of doing anything other than throwing a tantrum (if only she had drowned). She's also got a husband (David Strathairn) who's about as sensitive as a sheet of drywall. There was no mystery for me in how Alice survived jail and her accusers and the guilt of being responsible for a child's death. What I couldn't figure out was how she went through life resisting the urge to kill her husband in his sleep. You get the feeling the only reason he wants her out of jail is to relieve him of the duty of having to take care of the kids.
In addition to Strathairn's pathetic character, this film also has too much of two different things: Oprah and Sigourney Weaver's breasts. Once Sigourney gets to prison, Oprah is mentioned over and over again. Naturally, this has absolutely nothing to do with the story and everything to do with the filmmakers kissing her ass in thanks for anointing their book for her club. As for Sigourney's tits, one wonders how first-time director Scott Elliott scored this coup. Too bad he's twenty years late. What is Sigourney, 52? Did we really need to be looking at her breasts? I'm thrilled for Sigourney that she's not yet using her nipples to paint her toenails, but that's no reason to be projecting the things onscreen. Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton -- this is an extremely frightening precedent to be setting.
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