On seeing this movie again after the 33 years since it was released, I found myself taking issue with several of the plot points. Now that I'm near the age of the main characters, with a grown daughter myself, the whole idea of Shirley McLaine still blaming her old friend after 20 years for advising her NOT to have an abortion struck me as ludicrous. We are asked to believe that the Anne Bancroft character selfishly advised Shirley McLaine to bear her child so that Shirley would be forced to give up her dancing career. In the late 50's, when the baby would have been born, abortion was illegal and dangerous. Yet we're supposed to accept that if Anne Bancroft had been a GOOD friend, she would have said, "Sure, honey, I know a guy who's good with a coathanger. You'll be dancing again in a week!" And we're supposed to agree that Shirley is not responsible for the decision she made, it was her conniving friend's responsibility for steering her in a direction she wasn't sure she wanted to take. Really. Moreover, Shirley never tempers her jealous rants by acknowledging that she got a beautiful, talented daughter as a result. Imagine if the character of Emilia walked in while Shirley was basically saying she wished that Emilia had never been born. None of this behaviour seems very mother-like, even for a worse-than-average mom. So it didn't surprise me that the screenplay was written by a man. Shirley also fails in the character department when, given the first opportunity away from her husband, she leaps into bed with an old flame who flirts with her. There is no remorse, no real recognition of how she may have damaged her relationship with her daughter (much less her husband). Instead, she is merely upset that her daughter is angry and doesn't want to speak to her. Her character is unrelentingly selfish and narcissistic.
Putting these issues aside, there are some very likable things about this film. Mikhail Baryshnikov is stunningly attractive and breathtakingly athletic. It is dazzling to watch him. The basic premise of the film is sound, if a little predictable, and if the whole abortion idea had been replaced with something more plausible, it might have achieved the subtlety it needed to be a great movie.