Monday, October 8, 2012

Steel Magnolias (2012) - Uplifting

(This is not a review of a remake of a classic 80's chick flick. This is a review of a revival of a classic 80's play that was written in honor of the playwright's (Robert Harling) sister who passed away, and the strong women who supported her. With that in mind, this review will not reference the 1980's film version explicitly because even that one deviated from the source material. Example: The play was set entirely in the beauty shop and only featured the six main women.) 

This new film adaptation of Steel Magnolias already opens up away from The Beauty Salon. Featuring Shelby (Condola Rashad) arguing with her soon to be husband, the couple argue as they're driving in a car to her home at night about their wedding the next day. As morning arises, we are immediately taken into the craziness of Shelby's wedding and onto the center piece of the film: The Beauty Shop. It is here where all the women meet and discuss topics such as married life, wedded bliss, homosexuality, and each other.

 Queen Latifah is cast as Shelby's mother, M'Lynn, in a role that allows her to explore other facets of her abilities that Hollywood Cinema doesn't allow. Alfre Woodard is expertly cast as Ouiser, the grumpy yet sweet older rich woman.  Phylica Rashad is cast as rich eccentric Clairee, proving that she is under-rated and needs to be in every movie ever. The other women include Jill Scott as the shop's owner Truvy, Adepero Oduye as the new girl in town Anelle and Condola Rashad (Phylicia's daughter) as Shelby, who is central to the play and central to the film here.

While using the original stage script as a source, some changes had to be made. The script adaptation here is not the strongest point.  In adapting a play to screen, a few changes are inevitable, but the scenes in this film version that truly shine are when the six women are in the beauty shop. Any scenes outside of that setting seem a little stale and forced save for a few. The new opening with Shelby and Jackson in the car is very well acted, but was a car the best place to have that moment? The addition of a hospital scene between Shelby and M'Lynn is also very touching, but the fact still remains: the best moments in this film, are either when the women are interacting, or when we as the audience are taken into the beauty shop. It makes me wonder why a straight recreation of the play onto screen wasn't done in which the whole movie would take place in The Beauty Shop. The majority of the cast has stage experience and would've made it a different and enjoyable film.

Modern references had been put in as well. The original script was set in the 1980's. It is now 2012 and they don't let us forget. Sometimes they work, like when Ouiser references Beyonce. Sometimes they fail and detract, like when Truvy mentions Facebook.

 The movie as is though is well worth a view. It is a beautiful and gorgeous film that is truly set apart from Lifetime's normal outings.