Squabbling sisters may seem an unlikely focus for director Curtis Hanson. Yet In Her Shoes brims with the same wit and sensitivity as his 2000 comedy drama Wonder Boys. Cameron Diaz lends her star shine to this otherwise low-key story (based on Jennifer Weiner's best-selling book) while Toni Collette provides a sturdy anchor. There are no prizes for guessing which plays the wild child and which the levelheaded frump, nonetheless Hanson breaks the mould with this refreshingly un-frivolous and stiletto-sharp chick flick.
Diaz boldly (but successfully) tests the limits of her likeability as the footloose and fancy-free Maggie who doesn't think twice about bedding the potential love of her sister's life. Sympathy sits easy with Collette although she plays the long-suffering Rose with plenty of backbone. She chucks Maggie out of her apartment at which the point the story finds an extra spring in its step - namely, Shirley MacLaine. The veteran actress brings weight and breezy charm as the no-nonsense grandmother who takes Maggie in and pulls her up by the Jimmy Choo bootstraps.
Along with designer shoes, skeletons come tumbling out of the family closet, but Hanson doesn't lapse into soapy melodrama. Despite one misstep involving an impromptu poetry reading, he delivers a finely tuned and pleasingly bittersweet coming-of-age story. Even when Maggie and Rose are behaving childishly, the script is maturely written and comes peppered with a few classic comic moments. An early scene where Rose snaps a picture of her sleeping lover "because the lawyer in me wants proof" is all at once funny and poignant. Although it's not truly profound, In Her Shoes stands out for being a simple story, lovingly polished.