In Her Shoes isn’t “bad” as such; it’s well-directed by Curtis Hanson, well-acted by Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz, with a fine script that neatly avoids most of the banality and clumsy sentimentality that ought to be endemic to a film about two sisters realizing how much they need each other. But something just feels very…flat.
For one, it’s much too long, especially in the second act when Diaz goes to visit long-lost grandma Shirley MacLaine. At the same time, Collette stumbles into a relationship with a nebbishy lawyer, and the whole affair starts teetering into Sex and the City – Philadelphia Edition territory.
Really, I think that’s what does it: this could be a strong film about two women and how they interact, but the plot gets in the way. Not because it separates them for most of the film’s running time, but because it distracts from the central point of the film: why these women love each other, and how they grow separately to prepare them for reuniting. Not for nothing are the film’s best moments the ones that reinforce this: Diaz reading her first poem, Collette finding that she really loves walking dogs. Frankly, I find the intrusion of a romantic plotline invasive in the extreme, and somewhat programmatic: the “redemption by finding a good man” story, while not foregrounded here, is totally inappropriate for a film that wants so badly to be about the relationship between sisters.
There’s a recurrent motif of borrowing shoes in the film, which I liked because it relates directly to how the sisters are paired inextricably to each other. But the movie forgets about it for a while, and if the film can’t be bothered to reference its own themes, why should I bother to care?