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Veteran Actress Shirley MacLaine Says <i>In Her Shoes</i> is Not a 'Chick Flick'

Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine co-star in a funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking story of a family that splits apart and comes back together again. Alan Silverman has a look at In Her Shoes.

Maggie and Rose are sisters, but, at first glance at least, it's hard to tell they are in the same family. Rose, played by Toni Collette is all business: a buttoned-down attorney whose world revolves around her work. On the other hand, to Maggie, played by Cameron Diaz, life is a non-stop party ... even though it's Rose to whom she turns when the party is over.

"Maggie hates herself. She is self-loathing," explains Diaz. "That's why she behaves the way that she does. She's completely insecure about every part of herself."

Cameron Diaz says Maggie has to grow, both in the way she acts toward others and toward herself.

"I think I had an understanding of Maggie," she says. "To me she reflected a lot of our society today: the superficiality and girls being told that sexuality is the way that you move through the world (and) that's more important than other aspects of your character. So I felt like I understood how much power that wields over people."

Rose has been the responsible one in the family since their mother committed suicide when they were young girls; but Toni Collette says Rose learns she can use a little of Maggie's lightness.

"She takes responsibility for everybody else and everything else in her life and kind of avoids herself," explains Collette. "I think in that way it's very clear that they both have low self-esteem. It just presents itself differently. It's not that she doesn't like herself. She just doesn't give herself the time of day. She just overlooks herself and I think most people she passes on the street would do the same thing. As an audience member, when you get to know Rose and as you see her get to know herself, you realize there is so much more. It's just beautiful. Her name is Rose and you really watch her blossom."

These two young women find themselves, in part, with the help of an older woman: the grandmother from whom they've been estranged ... in fact who they didn't even know was alive.

"I think when you get older you get more wisdom and you don't have a need to perform who you are," says Shirley Maclaine, who plays Ella, the grandmother. "You already know who you are. You already have a quiet confidence."

MacLaine is adamant that In Her Shoes not be labeled a "chick flick" - a movie for women - just because it has women as its main characters.

"It's a story about a family that finally overcomes really dramatic disaster. My (character's) daughter committed suicide," she explains. "These girls' mother committed suicide and my son-in-law - my daughter's husband - has not told these girls that they have a grandmother. Come on, that's pretty dramatic stuff. That's not 'chick flick' stuff. It's family stuff and every family in the world has something like that going on. All families are a study of a small civilization."

Director Curtis Hanson admits he has just about given up fighting the label issue; but he hopes audiences will see beyond that limitation to find a theme of wide appeal.

"This particular movie deals with adult characters where the audience can sit there and say 'that's me. I know what it's like to feel that way ... to have self-image questions ... aspire to be a better version of myself ... to have those emotions.' Unfortunately, emotional movies today are very difficult to get made and tend to be labeled feminine, as though men don't have emotion," he says.

In Her Shoes is based on the 2002 novel by Jennifer Weiner and adapted for the screen by Susannah Grant.