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Redgrave's Performance/Story Is the Only Saving Grace
on July 19, 2015
Since I enjoyed the original IF THESE WALKS COULD TALK on DVD recently, I took some online advice from a review that said the sequel was “even better”. Trust me—it isn’t. I assumed that the stories would be another ‘abortion anthology’ and since Sharon Stone and Ellen Degeneres were pictured in a loving pose on the cover, that one of the tales would involve a lesbian couple.
All three stories are about problems faced by lesbian couples—no abortion dilemmas this time around—set in 1961, 1972 and 2000 in the same house that was featured in the original film. I can only recommend the first segment, in which Vanessa Redgrave gives one of her usual tour-de-force performances as a schoolteacher who loses her life partner Marian Seldes unexpectedly. From the opening scene in a dark movie theatre where the two are watching the climactic scene in THE CHILDREN’S HOUR where Shirley Maclaine professes her feelings for Audrey Hepburn (and basically seeing themselves onscreen), to the awkwardness of the hospital scene where she learns she’s just become a widow yet is not recognized as such, Redgrave underplays perfectly and rips your heart out. But things get worse when Seldes’ nephew and his wife (Elizabeth Perkins making the most of a small part) swoop in to start picking over Auntie’s belongings. Not only is Redgrave treated like nothing more than a roommate, she learns she is being evicted and many of her prize possessions are being handled and snatched up like ripe produce at a farmer’s market. This kind of thing is likely still happening today and should serve as a warning for same-sex couples to ensure they have an iron-clad will to stop greedy relatives from picking them clean.
Unfortunately, the second and third segments are a severe come-down from the first, with the 1972 story featuring Michelle Willlams as a radical feminist whose friends have been banned from their college women’s group due to their agenda. When they stop in at a lesbian dive bar to brood, Williams meets and becomes intrigued with the mannish Chloe Savigny, much to the frustration of her pals, who see Savigny as nothing more than another subjugating male with a vagina. I suppose the story is about accepting one’s self as is, but it is nowhere as meaty or interesting as the first.
The final act is even more frivolous with Sharon Stone and Ellen Degeneres as a successful yuppie couple trying to conceive. When the two aren’t sitting on the hood of their car staring longingly at school kids on their recess break (creepy) or making love to Dido in extended montages, Stone’s dancing around to Annie Lennox or Natalie Cole in her pajamas and Ellen’s doing her usual stammer (this time about how she’s angry she can’t get Stone pregnant!). The only message I got from all this was how privileged and lucky these two were compared to the women in the 1961 segment.
Worth seeing for Redgrave’s performance but overall lacks the punch of the 1996 original. Act I gets five stars, Act II gets three and Act III gets two stars from this reviewer.