REVIEW: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

CAST

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Ewan McGregor (Big Fish)
Margo Martindale (Orphan)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Dermot Mulroney (The Grey)
Julianne Nicholson (Kinsey)
Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Newell Alexander (Sordid Lives)

17xp-anderson1-articleLargeThe title designates time and location: an unusually hot August in a rural area outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), an alcoholic, once-noted poet, interviews and hires a young native American woman Johnna (Misty Upham) as a live-in cook and caregiver for his strong-willed and contentious wife Violet (Meryl Streep), who is suffering from oral cancer and addiction to narcotics. Shortly after this, he disappears from the house, and Violet calls her sister and daughters for support. Her sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) arrives with husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper). Violet’s middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is single and the only one living locally; Barbara (Julia Roberts), her oldest, who has inherited her mother’s mean streak, arrives from Colorado with her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Barbara and Bill are separated, but they put up a united front for Violet.After five days, the sheriff arrives with the news that Beverly took his boat out on the lake and has drowned. Youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives with the latest in a string of boyfriends, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a sleazy Florida businessman whom she introduces as her fiancé. Mattie Fae and Charles’s shy, awkward son “Little Charles” (Benedict Cumberbatch) misses the funeral because he overslept and is met at the bus station by his father. Charles loves his son, whereas Mattie constantly belittles him. Ivy confides to Barbara that she is in love with her cousin, “Little Charles”, who plans to move to New York, and she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy. She feels this is her only chance to finally marry.The family sits down to dinner after the funeral, fueled by Violet’s brutal “truth telling”, which results in Barbara pouncing on her mother. She decides she has had enough of her mother’s drug addiction and confiscates all her several kinds of pills. Later, after Violet has had a chance to sober up, she has a tender moment with her daughters and shares a story that demonstrates how cruel her own mother was when she longed for a new pair of cowgirl boots when she was in her early teens.As “Little Charles” sings Ivy a song he has written for her, Mattie Fae walks in and berates him. This exhausts Charles’s patience with his wife’s lack of love and compassion for her son, and he threatens to leave her if she keeps it up. Mattie subsequently reveals to Barbara, who unintentionally listened in, that she had a long-ago affair with Beverly, and Charles is in fact their younger half-brother and that is the true reason why Ivy and “Little Charles” cannot be together. That evening, Steve and Jean are playfully sharing a joint of marijuana. Johnna sees this and, sensing that he intends on molesting her, goes after him with a shovel. Barbara confronts Jean and slaps her. This impels Bill to take Jean back to Colorado, leaving Barbara. Karen also leaves with Steve.Later, Ivy tries to tell her mother about her love for “Little Charles”. Barbara tries to deflect the admission. Violet tells Ivy Charles is actually her brother, something she knew all along. Ivy leaves and promises to never come back. In the last confrontation between Violet and Barbara, Violet admits she was contacted by Beverly from his motel the week after he had left home, but did nothing to help him until after she removed money from the couple’s joint safe deposit box. By this time he had already drowned. This revelation leads Barbara to depart, realizing that her mother has slipped beyond help. Violet is left with only Johnna. Barbara is driving through the plains, stops, gets out of the car, cries then gets back in the car and follows signage showing highways and number of miles to Wichita, Salina and Denver.Fantastic film – see it if you enjoy witty, clever writing, a strong storyline and a first rate cast.

REVIEW: FLATLINERS (1990)

Starring

Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys)
Julia Roberts (Mirorr Mirror)
Kevin Bacon (Super)
William Baldwin (Backdraft)
Oliver Platt (2012)
Kimberly Scott (The Abyss)
Hope Davis (American Splendor)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Beth Grant (Donnie Darko)

Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland in Flatliners (1990)Nelson Wright, a medical student, walks onto a beach one day and proclaims “today is a good day to die”. He later convinces four of his medical school classmates—Joe Hurley, David Labraccio, Randy Steckle, and Rachel Manus—to help him discover what lies beyond death. Nelson flatlines for one minute before his classmates resuscitate him. While “dead”, he experiences a sort of afterlife. He sees a vision of a boy he bullied as a child, Billy Mahoney. He merely tells his friends that he cannot describe what he saw, but something is there. The others follow Nelson’s daring feat.Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Kiefer Sutherland, and Oliver Platt in Flatliners (1990)Joe flatlines next, and he experiences an erotic afterlife sequence. He agrees with Nelson’s claim that something indeed exists. David is third to flatline, and he sees a vision of a girl, Winnie Hicks, whom he bullied in grade school. The three men start to experience hallucinations related to their afterlife visions. Nelson gets physically beat up by Billy Mahoney twice. Joe, engaged to be married, is haunted by his home videos of his sexual dalliances with other women. David finds Winnie Hicks on a train, and she verbally taunts him the way he taunted her.Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, and Kiefer Sutherland in Flatliners (1990)Rachel decides to flatline next on Halloween. David tries to stop the others from giving Rachel their same fate, but she is already “dead” when he arrives. Rachel nearly dies for good after the power goes out, and the men are unable to shock her with the defibrillator paddles. Luckily, she survives, but she, too, is haunted by the memory of her father committing suicide when she was young. The three men finally reveal their harrowing experiences to one another, and David decides to put his visions to a stop. Meanwhile, Joe’s fiancée, Anne, comes to his apartment, and she breaks up with him after she discovers his videos. Joe’s visions cease after Anne leaves him.Kiefer Sutherland in Flatliners (1990)David goes to visit Winnie Hicks, now grown up, and apologizes to her. Winnie accepts his apology and thanks him. David immediately feels a weight lifted off his shoulders. Then, David finds Nelson, who accompanied David to visit Winnie, beating himself with a climbing axe. In Nelson’s mind, however, Billy Mahoney is attempting for a third time to beat him to death. David stops him, and they return to town. Rachel seeks comfort in the arms of David, and the two spend the night together. While Rachel and David are together, Nelson takes Steckle and Joe to a graveyard. He reveals that he killed Billy Mahoney as a kid by throwing rocks at him until he fell out of a tree. Nelson storms off, leaving Joe and Steckle stranded.Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland in Flatliners (1990)David leaves Rachel alone in order to rescue Joe and Steckle at the cemetery. While alone, Rachel goes to the bathroom, and finds her father. He apologizes to his daughter, and her guilt over his death is lifted when she discovers that he was addicted to heroin. Then, Nelson calls Rachel, and he tells her that he needs to flatline again in order to make amends. He apologizes for involving her and their friends in his stupid plan. The three men race to Nelson, who has been dead for an estimated nine minutes already. Rachel soon finds them, and the four friends work feverishly to save Nelson. In the afterlife, Nelson is experiencing himself as a young boy being stoned by Billy Mahoney from the tree. Nelson dies in the afterlife from the fall, and his friends cannot revive him. When they are about to give up, Mahoney forgives Nelson, and David gives Nelson one last shock. This brings him back, and Nelson tells them, “Today wasn’t a good day to die.”Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Kiefer Sutherland, and Oliver Platt in Flatliners (1990)The story is relatively simple, yet original, and the acting is refreshing– definitely a stand out film for the genre, and one that has set the standard for measuring other thrillers for me.

REVIEW: VALENTINE’S DAY

CAST

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Bradley Cooper (Serena)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Patrick Dempsey (Transformers 3)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Eric Dane (X-Men 3)
Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Anne Hathaway (Interstellar)
Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Queen Latifah (Bringing Down The House)
Taylor Lautner (Twilight)
George Lopez (The Smurfs)
Shirley McLaine (Bewitched)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)
Taylor Swift (New Girl)
Larry Miller (10 Things I Hate About You)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Kirsten Schaal (Bob’s Burgers)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

MV5BMjE0MzEyNjMzMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjMyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_The film follows a group of related characters and their struggles with love on Valentine’s Day.
MV5BMTUwOTg4Nzg4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTEyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Florist Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) wakes up and proposes to his girlfriend Morley Clarkson (Jessica Alba), who accepts. However, Reed’s closest friends, Alfonso Rodriguez (George Lopez) and Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner), aren’t surprised when Morley suddenly changes her mind and leaves Reed a few hours later.
MV5BMTk5NjUwODU1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDMyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_On a flight to Los Angeles, Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts), a captain in the U.S. Army on a one-day leave, befriends Holden Wilson (Bradley Cooper). Kate is travelling a long distance to get back home only for a short time, and Holden states that she must really be in love to do so. When the plane lands and Kate has to wait hours for the taxi, Holden offers his limousine to allow her to be there on time.
VALENTINES DAYJulia, an elementary school teacher, has fallen in love with Dr. Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey), but does not know that he is married to Pamela (Katherine LaNasa). Harrison tells her that he needs to go to San Francisco for a business trip: on his way, he stops by at Reed’s flowershop and orders two flower bouquets – asking for discretion. Wanting to surprise him and despite Reed’s warnings, Julia flies to San Francisco, convinced that Reed was wrong. Julia finds out that he is married and finds him at a local restaurant. Dressed as a waitress, Julia makes a scene at the restaurant, making Pamela suspicious. One of Julia’s students, Edison (Bryce Robinson), orders flowers from Reed, to be sent to his teacher. Julia suggests to Edison to give the flowers to a girl named Rani in his class who has a crush on him after telling Edison the meaning of love.
MV5BMTM5OTA4NDEzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTEyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Edison’s babysitter Grace Smart (Emma Roberts) is planning to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Alex Franklin (Carter Jenkins). The planned encounter goes awry when Grace’s mother discovers a naked Alex in Grace’s room, rehearsing a song he wrote for Grace. Edison’s grandparents, Edgar (Héctor Elizondo) and Estelle Paddington (Shirley MacLaine) are facing the troubles of a long marriage. Estelle admits to Edgar about an affair she had with one of his business partners long ago. Although she is deeply sorry, Edgar is very upset. Grace’s high school friends, Willy Harrington (Taylor Lautner) and Felicia Miller (Taylor Swift), are experiencing the freshness of new love, and have agreed to wait to have sex.
MV5BMzA1MTY2MDA4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTEyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), a closeted gay professional football player, is contemplating the end of his career with his publicist Kara Monahan (Jessica Biel) and his agent Paula Thomas (Queen Latifah). Kara is organizing her annual “I Hate Valentine’s Day” party, but soon becomes interested in sports reporter Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx), who was ordered to do a Valentine’s Day report by his boss Susan Moralez (Kathy Bates), and who shares Kara’s hatred of the holiday. Substituting for Paula’s absent secretary is one of the firm’s receptionists, Liz Curran (Anne Hathaway), who dates mail-room clerk Jason Morris (Topher Grace). Jason is shocked when Liz turns out to be moonlighting as a phone sex operator. Liz explains that she is only doing this because she has a $100,000 student loan to pay off. Jason is upset, but eventually reconciles with her after seeing Edgar forgive Estelle.
MV5BMTgwNTU1MzM5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODIyOTQxMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Sean finally comes out on national television, and Holden, Sean’s lover, goes back to him. Kate arrives home late at night to greet not her supposed boyfriend but her son Edison. Willy drops Felicia off at home after a date and they kiss. Kelvin and Kara hang out at Kelvin’s news station where they later kiss. Alfonso dines with his wife, and Grace and Alex agree to wait to have sex. Edgar and Estelle reconcile and redo their marriage vows, Harrison’s wife has left him because of his infidelity and Morley tries to call Reed, who is instead starting a new relationship with Julia. Paula receives a call from one of Liz’s masochistic clients and takes delight in expressing her dominance and sadism.MV5BMTI2ODIzMzM0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjU3NzMwMw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Big star cast with lots of intertwined storylines going on with a lovely little twist at the end. A proper feel good movie thatt ticks all the right boxes for Valentine’s Day.

REVIEW: CLOSER

CAST
Julia Roberts (Mirror, Mirror)
Jude Law (Spy)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
In the opening scene, twenty-four-year-old Alice Ayres and Dan Woolf see each other for the first time from opposite sides of a street as they are walking toward each other among many other rush hour pedestrians. Alice is a young American stripper who just arrived in London, and Dan is an unsuccessful British author who is on his way to work where he writes obituaries for a newspaper. Alice looks in the wrong direction as she crosses the street and is hit by a taxi cab right in front of Dan’s eyes. After he rushes to her side she smiles to him and says, “Hello, stranger.” He takes her to the hospital where Alice is treated and released. Afterward, on the way to his office, they stop by Postman’s Park, the same park that he and his father visited after his mother’s death. Pausing in front of the office before he leaves her and goes to work, he reminds her that traffic in England tends to come on from the right, and on impulse, he asks her for her name. They soon become lovers.
A year later, though the two are in a relationship, Dan is straying. He has written a novel based on Alice’s life and while being photographed to publicize it, he flirts with the American photographer Anna Cameron. Anna shares a kiss with Dan before finding out that Dan and Alice are in a relationship. Alice arrives and borrows Anna’s bathroom, leaving Anna and Dan alone again. Dan takes the chance to try to persuade Anna into having an affair with him but is cut short by Alice’s return. Alice asks Anna if she can have her portrait taken as well. Anna agrees and Alice asks Dan to leave them alone during the photo shoot. While being photographed, she reveals to Anna that she overheard them, and she is photographed while still weeping over it. Alice does not reveal what she overheard to Dan, even as he spends a year stalking Anna. Another year later, Dan enters a cybersex chat room and randomly meets Larry Gray, a British dermatologist. With Anna still on his mind, Dan pretends to be her, and using the pretense that they will be having sex, Dan convinces Larry to meet at the aquarium (where Anna told Dan she often went). Larry goes to the rendezvous and has his rude awakening there. Anna tells Larry that a man who had pursued her, Dan, was most likely to blame for the setup. Soon, Anna and Larry become a couple and they refer to Dan as “Cupid” from then on.
Four months later, at Anna’s photo exhibition,[3] Larry meets Alice, whom he recognizes from the tearful photograph that is one of many being exhibited. Larry knows that Alice and Dan are a couple, from talking to Anna. Meanwhile, Dan convinces Anna to become involved with him. They begin cheating on their respective lovers for a year, even though Anna and Larry become married halfway through the year. Eventually Anna and Dan each confess the affair to their respective partners, leaving their relationships for one another.
Alice goes back to being a stripper, heartbroken by her loss. One day, Larry runs into her accidentally at the strip club and he (heart-broken himself) is convinced that she is the girl he met before. He asks her if her name is Alice, but no matter how much money he gives her, she keeps telling him her name is “Jane Jones.” He asks her to have a one-night stand with him but she refuses. The line of questioning becomes pornographic, albeit without any explicit nudity. Eventually, Larry convinces Anna to see him one last time; she agrees to sleep with him so that he will sign the divorce papers and leave her alone. Dan guesses and Anna confesses it to Dan, who takes it badly. Anna returns to Larry. Distraught, Dan confronts Larry to try and get Anna back. Instead, Larry tells him Alice’s whereabouts, and suggests that he go back to her. Suddenly, however, out of a sheer malicious impulse, he also tells him that he had a one-night stand with her.
Alice takes Dan back. When Dan asks her whether she had a one-night stand with Larry, she initially denies it. But when he insists on the truth, she suddenly tells him that she doesn’t love him anymore and goes on to say that she did sleep with Larry. Dan then reveals that Larry had already told him about the one-night stand but that he’s already forgiven her. She insists that it’s over and tells him to leave. The argument culminates in Dan slapping Alice. In the end, Alice returns to New York. Passing through the immigration checkpoint on her way back into the United States, it is revealed through a shot of her passport that her real name is indeed Jane Rachel Jones and that she had lied about her name for the duration of her four-year relationship with Dan.
Back in London, Dan returns to Postman’s Park, and to his surprise, notices the name “Alice Ayres” on a memorial that is dedicated to a young woman, “who by intrepid conduct”, and at the cost of her young life, rescued three children from a fire. The final scene shows Alice/Jane walking on Broadway towards West 47th Street with male passers-by staring at her beauty. This completes the visual symmetry within the film as it echoes the opening scene where Alice/Jane and Dan are staring at each other on the sidewalks of London.
This film is an excellent character study of the human condition we call love. It shows us how paranoia and the feeling that we must know every little detail can eat away at someone and cause relationships to desolve. I was really unsure about this movie as i thought it was going to be over long and too depressing. I have never been so wrong about anything, the film flys by and the performances are career bests from all involved. Especially Natalie Portman, who steals the show as alice.

REVIEW: HOOK

CAST
Robin Williams (Jumanji)
Julia Roberts (Mirror, Mirror)
Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
Bob Hoskins (Snow White and The huntsman)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Caroline Goodall (Schlinders List)
Phil Collins (Buster)
Don S. Davis (Stargate – Sg.1)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Ryan Francis (Blood Craft)
Lisa Wilhoit (Family Guy)
MV5BMTUwMDMwNjkyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTk2NjI5MDE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1524,1000_AL_
Peter Banning is a successful, middle-aged corporate lawyer living in San Francisco but spends more time at work in the office with his fellow coworkers than at home with his wife Moira and two young children Jack and Maggie. Although Peter is able to see Maggie’s school play production of Peter Pan, he misses Jack’s baseball game, breaking his promise. The Bannings fly to London to visit Moira’s grandmother, Wendy Darling, to celebrate her charity work for orphans, which once included Peter. During the visit, Peter is distracted by phone calls from his business partner. On one occasion, he shouts at his children when they interrupt him and in frustration, Moira throws his cellphone out a window.
Later, while Peter, Moira, and Wendy attend a banquet ceremony hosted by Great Ormond Street Hospital, a strange presence abducts Jack and Maggie from their beds in the nursery. The senile Tootles, another one of Wendy’s orphans who lives at her house, insists that Captain Hook has kidnapped the children as revenge and has taken them back to Neverland. Peter dismisses Tootles’ warning and calls the police instead. Late that night Wendy tells Peter that the stories about Neverland are all true and he is actually the real Peter Pan but has lost all his childhood memories when he decided to stay in London with her several decades ago. In a state of denial, Peter gets drunk in the nursery where Tinker Bell arrives. After failing to convince Peter about Neverland, she knocks him unconscious and carries him into the night sky and towards the second star to the right.
Confused and disoriented, Peter wakes up in Neverland with a hangover where he encounters Captain Hook and his pirates, who are holding his children hostage. Hook is disgusted by Peter’s adult self and becomes disillusioned by his foe who is no longer capable of providing a good fight. Tinker Bell and Hook make a deal to give Peter three days to be trained to his former self for a climactic battle. After a brief encounter with a group of mermaids in the lagoon, Tinker Bell takes Peter to meet the new generation of Lost Boys, led by a new leader, Rufio. Tinker Bell convinces the boys to give Peter a chance and they agree to train him. During this process Peter begins to rediscover his inner child and sense of imagination. Meanwhile, Mr. Smee suggests to Hook that he manipulate Jack and Maggie into loving him in order to break Peter’s spirit. Maggie despises Hook, but Jack begins to see Hook as a father figure.
In a disguise, Peter sadly witnesses Jack playing baseball with Hook, who treats him as a son. Knowing that he must learn how to fly again to prove himself and retrieve his children, Peter unsuccessfully tries to remember how until he encounters his own shadow, which leads him to the old tree home of the original Lost Boys. He reunites with Tinker Bell and remembers his past, recalling how he came to Neverland as an infant, how he met Wendy and how he fell in love with Wendy’s granddaughter Moira and chose to grow up. Realizing being a father is his new happy thought, Peter rises up in the sky and dons his childhood outfit. He regains leadership of the lost boys who launch an attack on Hook and the pirates on the third day. During the battle, Peter rescues Maggie and promises to be a better father to Jack.
When Hook slays Rufio, Peter and Hook face off in a final duel, ending in Peter’s victory. Refusing to leave honorably, Hook attempts to attack Peter when his back is turned, but the stuffed crocodile that once tormented him comes back to life one final time and consumes him. Peter gives the lost boy called Thud Butt his sword, asking him to look after the other boys. He then departs from Neverland with his children, waking up in Kensington Gardens, where he says a final goodbye to Tinker Bell who confesses her unrequited love for him. Returning to Wendy’s house, Peter reunites with his family and hands a bag of marbles to Tootles, who discovers they contain pixie dust and flies off out the window to return to Neverland. Wendy asks Peter if his adventures are over, but Peter replies, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”
MV5BMTQ4Njc4NTMwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjk2NjI5MDE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1524,1000_AL_
This film is a true classic that everyone should have the pleaure of watching. It doesn’t take anything away from J.M Barrie, it just extends his great ideas onto a new and modern level.

REVIEW: MONA LISA SMILE


CAST
Julia Roberts (Mystic Pizza)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Julia Stiles (A Guy Thing)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk The Line)
Dominic West (300)
Juliet Stevenson (Bend It Like Beckham)
Marica Gay Harden (Mystic River)
John Slattery (Iron Man 2)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Kristen Connolly (The Cabin In The Woods)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Lily Rabe (The Undoing)
In 1953, Katherine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts), a 30-year-old graduate student in the department of Art History at Oakland State, takes a position teaching “History of Art” at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, because she wants to make a difference and influence the next generation of women. At her first class, Katherine discovers that her students have already memorized the entire textbook syllabus, so she uses the classes to introduce them to Modern Art and encourages discussion about topics such as what makes good art and what the Mona Lisa’s smile means. This brings her into conflict with the college president (Marian Seldes), who warns she must stick to the syllabus if she wants to keep her job. Katherine comes to know her students and seeks to inspire them to achieve more than marriage to eligible young men.
Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst) is highly opinionated and outspokenly conservative like her mother, the head of the Alumnae Association. Betty doesn’t understand why Katherine is not married and insists that there is a universal standard for good art. She writes editorials for the college paper, exposing campus nurse Amanda Armstrong (Juliet Stevenson) as a supplier of contraception, which results in Amanda being fired; another editorial attacks Katherine for advocating that women should seek a career instead of being wives and mothers as intended. Betty can’t wait to marry Spencer (Jordan Bridges) as their parents have arranged and expects the traditional exemptions from attending class as a married woman: Katherine insists she will be marked on merit and attendance, resulting in more conflict.
Connie Baker (Ginnifer Goodwin) begins dating Betty’s cousin, Charlie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) but Betty persuades her that he is only using her his parents have arranged for him to marry Deb MacIntyre. After a disastrous date, where Charlie and Connie very nearly cross paths with Deb’s parents on a weekend away at the shore, Connie ends the relationship, believing Betty’s story to be true. However, some weeks later, Connie and Charlie reconnect, with Charlie saying he has already decided for himself that he is not going to marry Deb, so he and Connie get back together. Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles) dreams of being a lawyer and has enrolled as pre-law, so Katherine encourages her to apply to Yale Law School, where she is accepted; Katherine is affronted when Joan’s fiancé Tommy (Topher Grace) comments Joan “will always have that”, intimating his own expectations of what his wife should be. Joan eventually elopes with Tommy, and professes to Katherine she is very happy—she had decided that what she wants most is to be a wife and mother after graduation and asks Katherine to respect her choice. Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has liberal views and supports Katherine because she sees her as having chosen what she wants in her life and because she has often felt out of place at the school being Jewish among the mostly WASP student body. Her parents divorced after the war and her father left them for a new family. Giselle brazenly has affairs with a professor and a married man.
During “truth or consequences” in a secret society meeting, Katherine confides to the girls that she was engaged when she was younger, but that she and her fiancé were prevented from marrying by the war and their relationship fizzled out. Katherine declines a proposal from her California boyfriend (John Slattery) because she doesn’t love him enough and begins seeing the Wellesley Italian professor, Bill Dunbar (Dominic West). Bill is charming and full of stories about Europe and his heroic actions in Italy during the war. He has also had affairs with students (including Giselle), and Katherine makes him promise that it will never happen again. The relationship progresses but when Katherine learns that Bill spent the entire war at the Army Languages Center on Long Island, she decides to break up with him because he is not trustworthy. Bill responds that Katherine didn’t come to Wellesley to help the students find their way, but to help them find her way.
Within six months of the wedding Betty’s marriage falls apart as Spencer has an affair, hiding it from his wife by pretending to be away on business. Betty seeks refuge at her parents’ house but her mother turns her away, telling her that her home is with Spencer now. Betty lashes out at Giselle in rage and pain and then breaks down in tears while Giselle hugs her. Mrs Warren begs Betty to stay married to Spencer, saying that she should try for a year and that she must avoid a scandal. Betty shows her mother a picture of the Mona Lisa and asks if her smile means she is happy. She answers her own question: “Who cares, as long as she’s smiling?” and warns her mother that not everything is what it seems. At graduation, Betty begins to ask Katherine about apartments in Greenwich Village, New York, but their conversation is interrupted by Mrs. Warren. Betty tells her mother that she filed for divorce that same morning and she is going to room with Giselle. She tells Katherine that she is considering applying to Yale Law School.
Katherine’s course is highly popular, so the college invites her to return but with certain conditions: she must follow the syllabus, submit lesson plans for approval, keep a strictly professional relationship with all faculty members, and not talk to the girls about anything other than classes. Katherine decides to leave in order to explore Europe. In the final scene, Betty dedicates her last editorial to Katherine, claiming that her teacher is “an extraordinary woman who lived by example and compelled us all to see the world through new eyes.” As Katherine’s taxi speeds up, all her students follow on their bicycles and Betty is seen struggling to keep up with the taxi as a last effort to thank Katherine for changing her life.
This is a wonderful, highly enjoyable film in which the social mores and style of the nineteen fifties are well depicted