Directed by Mike Nichols (1990) Novel & Screenplay by Carrie Fisher
Starring: Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss
Suzanne Vale (Streep) overdoses on pills and cocaine. She’s sent to rehab, and once she gets out it’s written in her contract that she must live with a responsible party for her next film. She moves in with her mother, Doris Mann (MacLaine), an alcoholic in denial.
The movie is centered around the mother-daughter relationship, while Suzanne works on her movie. Her mother is bombastic, and Suzanne switches between loving her and hating her for it. It’s a film built off performances, and Streep is a knock out. While she’s tempted by her co-star’s prescription drugs, hesitatingly starts a relationship with Jack Faulkner (Quaid), and is told three times over that her acting while off drugs isn’t top-notch.
It’s a very Hollywood movie, with scenes of Suzanne in costume moving from set to set. While she’s walking to her car, she see seemingly talks to Jack on a suburban street, until a crew comes by to take the houses and white picket fences away. Doris Mann is a vestige of Classic Hollywood, and MacLaine gives her best poise in that arena, replete with a song and dance number at Suzanne’s coming home party. All of these items set the movie in a particular time and place, and while we could have another Postcards from the Edge in our time, I don’t see it done half as well or with the same kind of wit.
What the film makes plain is that recovering from addiction depends on the people there for support. While a nagging mother and three picky executive producers can make turning back to drugs desirable, a fellow addict and a director who’s as much a friend as a cohort can help make life easier.