2007 - United States - 113 minutes
Writer - Mark Andrus
Director - Garry Marshall
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 5.6/10 - Link to IMDb
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars

Several of the user comments I read at the Internet Movie Database pointed out that this film was a victim of bad advertising, and I very much agree. I thought it was going to be another of those wacky women comedies some of which are enjoyable and some of which are real dogs - Because I Said So starring Diane Keaton comes to mind. I decided to rent it mainly because it starred Jane Fonda. When I saw that NetFlix had classified it as a drama, I was assuming that they had simply made a mistake - the most common being categorizing a drama as a comedy. Well, they hit this one on the nose. Director Gary Marshall states in the special features on the DVD that he usually directs comedy-dramas and that this is his first drama-comedy. As a matter of fact, there are few moments of comedy in this serious depiction of a young woman in crisis brought about by generations of family dysfunction.

Lindsay Lohan plays the young woman, Rachel, who is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother, Georgia, by her exasperated mother, Lilly. I don't know much about Lindsay Lohan, but from what I've seen on television news and tabloid shows, it seems that the part of drug soaked, sex kitten Rachel is not too distant from the real life of Lohan. I hope that the media reports are overblown for I hate to think of any young person sacrificing her life, but I can tell you that her portrayal of Rachel is absorbing and heart breaking. Lohan is incredibly attractive and sexy, but she goes far below the surface to give us an insightful look at a confused young woman poised upon the edge of disaster.

Rachel's mother, Lilly is at her wit's end as to how to deal with her daughter, so she takes her to spend her last summer before college with her no-nonsense grandmother from whom Lilly has been estranged for years. The producers of the film couldn't have found anyone better to play a woman ready for a breakdown than Felicity Huffman. There is no melodramatic wringing of hands. Huffman gives us an intelligent woman who has tried everything she knows to help her daughter defeat her demons but has reached the point where she understands that it is necessary to circumvent the problem for her own mental well-being. Lilly is a person torn asunder by her daughter, her husband, her estranged mother, and her own addiction to alcohol, and Huffman offers a raw and shattering look into Lilly's life.

As for Jane Fonda, - the object of my initial interest in the film - she is good, damn good, but, I think, somewhat miscast in her roll as Georgia. Georgia is a conservative woman who follows unyielding schedules and rules - thus the title of the film. I think that Jane Fonda's persona is just a bit too sophisticated for this part, but she is still a joy to watch in this roll of Georgia which is very reminiscent of her father's role of Norman in On Golden Pond.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the performances of the actors playing the three major male characters in the film. Cary Elwes is perfectly slick and slimy as the California attorney who is the husband of Lilly and the stepfather of Rachel. Dermot Mulroney is effective as the one-time boyfriend who stayed in the home town but is now suffering from supreme grief over the loss of his wife and child. And finally, Garrett Hedlund is a treat as the young love interest exuding just the right amount of young sexuality and naïveté.

If you are interested in viewing a sober and engrossing depiction of a family in crisis, forget what you might have concluded from the advertisements for this film and give Georgia Rule a spin.

Neil Turner
September 8, 2007

Georgia Rule