Postcards from the Edge Reviews
Suzanne is finally given a wake-up call when she accidentally overdoses on a deadly mix of narcotics. After getting her stomach pumped, she ends up in rehab, struggling to piece her life back together. But her shaky mind begins to rattle even more when her mother, Doris Mann (Shirley MacLaine), arrives on the scene. Doris is not just Suzanne's mother; she is a celebrated legend, a symbol of the '50s/'60s era of Hollywood musicals.
Doris means well, but she's possibly too self-centered for her own good. When she throws Suzanne a "welcome-home" party, she opens the front door, mugs for the varying cameras, and, with dramatic emphasis, declares, "My baby is home!" When the party is hitting its last legs, she pressures Suzanne to sing in front of everybody. Yet, the second her daughter finishes, she pulls one of those don't-make-me-sing (wink!) acts and one-ups her without even realizing that it may be just a little bitchy.
The rehab clinic advises that Suzanne live with Doris in order to have someone constantly watching her, but that probably isn't a good idea. Whether she'd like to admit it or not, Doris is an addict herself, popping champagne in the early hours of the morning or mixing in an absurd amount of vodka into her fruit smoothies. Within the important first months of Suzanne's recovery, the mother/daughter dynamic is challenged after years of repressed emotions and unexpressed opinions.
"Postcards from the Edge" originally began as an autographical novel by Princess Leia herself, the self-deprecating Carrie Fisher. As a film (which was also penned by Fisher), it contains a darkly funny sting. Deeply rooted in time-to-get-my-life-together reality and over-the-top, Norma Desmond-like expression, it's a comedy that is solidly entertaining but also bitterly true. One can only wonder how much of the film is lifted directly from the lives of Fisher and her famous mother, the inimitable Debbie Reynolds.
Mike Nichols has made movies that range from profoundly moving to breezily humorous, and "Postcards from the Edge" lands somewhere in the middle. It isn't as vigorously thought-provoking as many of his other undertakings, but it captures the mindset that, no matter how terrible life is, you can always find the laughter in it. Surely, Doris' diva attitude is sickening to the long-suffering Suzanne, but we see the events through Nichols' eyes. We're laughing, uncomfortably of course, but there's also unrelenting sympathy for both Suzanne and Doris. Suzanne has never lived a day without stooping under Doris' grande shadow, and Doris has never been able to meet the expectations of her ever-grumbling mother (Mary Wickes). Nichols films these women through a comedic lens, but there's an underlying anguish that he captures with enrichment.
If "Postcards from the Edge" is more scathing than it is meaningful, we have Streep, MacLaine, and Fisher to thank for all of its successes. Streep and MacLaine immerse themselves in their roles, understanding the women they're playing with unforced ease, while Fisher's screenplay contains absolutely scintillating dialogue. It isn't without its faults, but "Postcards from the Edge" rarely misses the mark.
The opening moments are quite good, with Fisher's on-screen alter-ego personified here by Meryl Streep overdosing and being committed to a treatment facility. Streep is very good in those scenes, at first denying her substance abuse problem before admitting them to her herself and those around her. Those wonderful dramatic moments, however, are soon there after interspersed with more lighthearted moments and that's where my problem with the picture lies.
Taken separately, the comedy and the drama both work, they just don't mesh well together. In perhaps the film's best scene, the mood is perfectly set. It's the wonderfully melancholy moment in which Streep sings the Ray Charles classic "You Don't Know Me", and the wistfulness of that instance is never captured again. It finds just the right tone.
The behind-the-scenes Hollywood stuff is terrific as well, as director Mike Nichols systematically shatters the illusion of filmmaking, and the vast array of glorified cameos are fun as well. "Postcards From the Edge" often feels like two very different movies at war with one another. The dramatic film should have won.
Well, I didn't love it. I only liked it. I loved Meryl Streep's hilarious and gripping performance which earned an Oscar nom. Shirley MacLaine also gave a great performance.
Overall, it was a well conceived story, but it didn't hit home for me. And even though Meryl Streep can sing well for an actor, her singing did fit into the story for me.
Postcards from the Edge, I give you a 60%.
Streep and MacLaine are just fantastic here. They even both get one scene, Streep gets two, to show their singing ability and I never really knew they were such great singers. I have seen Streep in Mamma Mia, but her voice is so much more amazing here singing country stuff.
There is a scene with MacLaine where she is minus and makeup nor a wig, and they do this long scene showing her transform from normal looking into the glam you can see on the poster. Coming from a guy, this scene just blew me away for some reason. You can actually see her transform emotionally as the makeup is applied.
I just wish more time was given to the supporting cast. Most only have ONE scene to get anything in. While Gene Hackman gets in a few great scenes, Dreyfuss, Reiner, Oliver Platt, Benning and even Quaid just don't register as very good characters.
And I would have liked to see more of the struggles with getting off drugs, and that whole transformation. Or better yet, if her career was able to recover. I mean she goes back to work, but we never know how successful that work became.
But the acting was fantastic from the ladies, and Streep looked smokin' in the police uniform no?