Lasse Hallstrom (THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, MY LIFE AS A DOG) directs this romantic comedy in which Julia Roberts plays Grace, a decent but naive southern woman who, happening to drive by her husband, Eddie (Dennis Quaid), one afternoon, is shocked to discover him locked in a passionate embrace, in public, with another woman. She immediately confronts her errant hubby, setting the town gossips' tongues wagging, and moves back in with her wealthy parents, provoking reactions from her imperious dad (Robert Duvall), who believes that a wife's duty is to stand by her man, and her sarcastic sister, Emma Rae (Kyra Sedgwick), who thinks that the bum got what he deserved. Soon Grace has caused a town scandal by openly questioning anyone who may have had an affair with Eddie and also starts to unearth problems in her parents' relationship. The film is ultimately a story about women who attempt reconciliation with their cheating spouses by exploring a new set of rules on their own terms. The screenplay is by Callie Khouri, the Academy Award- winning screenwriter of THELMA AND LOUISE.
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This well-intentioned but strangely cold tale concerns an emotionally repressed Southern belle (Julia Roberts) who separates from her husband (Dennis Quaid) after discovering he is an unabashed philanderer. Pressed by her dominating father (Robert Duvall) into reconciling with her spouse, Roberts's character chafes against so much male control over her destiny. Defended by a fiercely independent sister (a catchy performance by Kyra Sedgwick), the heroine develops the nerve to plot her own course in life while her mother (Gena Rowlands) finds the gumption to throw her own mate out of the house. The script by Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) is intelligent but hardly clear, and direction by Lasse Hallström (Once Around) can't keep Khouri's unfocused scenes and uncertain purpose from dissolving like sand castles in the rain. --Tom Keogh
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