I saw it last night and really liked it. And I didn’t expect to. Not because I didn’t love the book, which I did. And not because I’m one of those people who thinks Hollywood can’t possibly translate a book to film; I’m not. I didn’t expect to like the movie because of the trailer and the clips of it that aired in TV ads. The studio made the story seem like a lightweight, giggly girls story – a “Steel Magnolias” with a few black actresses thrown into the mix.
Instead, the movie is a story – improbable but compelling – of brave women in Jackson, Mississippi who risked their own safety and, in the case of Emma Stone’s character, their social status, to fight for civil rights. No lightweight subject there.
I thought the acting was superb. Jessica Chastain practically steals the movie. Emma Stone gives us a very likable heroine. Olivia Davis plays every scene with nuance. And Cicely Tyson’s all-too-brief moments on screen made me cry. The only flat notes for me were the normally excellent Allison Janney, who seemed miscast, and Bryce Dallas Howard, whose witchy villain was a bit too cartoonish.
Mostly, I loved the way the story unfolded – slowly, as with the book. No editing tricks. No car crashes. No special effects. No forced humor. What a relief.
To top it off, I had a great dinner at a place called Lucia Ristorante in New Milford, CT. You know how you can just walk into a restaurant and tell you’re in the hands of experts? That’s how I felt at Lucia. There’s an antipasto that comes when you’re seated. Delicious. There’s warm, freshly baked bread that shows up soon after. Delicious. There are entrees on the menu that make you want to order every single one of them; I had salmon and Michael had pasta and we were both happy. Delicious.
A nice evening with good entertainment and good food. Now if only it would stop raining. Sigh.