Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Cast
Sidda: Sandra Bullock
Vivi: Ellen Burstyn
Teensy: Fionnula Flanagan
Shep: James Garner
Younger Vivi: Ashley Judd
Necie: Shirley Knight
Caro: Maggie Smith
Conner Angus MacFadyen
Willetta Leslie Silva
Warner Bros. Pictures presents a film directed by Callie Khouri. Written by Khouri and Mark Andrus, based on the novels Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells. Running time: 116 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for mature thematic elements, language and brief sensuality).

Central Theme
A relationship torn apart or strained by a deep dark secret can only be mended by honesty, humility and love.

Story
It is 1937 in Louisiana and a sisterhood of four friends is formed. It transcends the years and holds together through shared tragedy, eventually facing its biggest challenge-trying to bring about the reconciliation of founding member Vivi and her daughter Sidda. The estrangement is the result of an interview in TIME magazine in which Sidda, a famous playwrite, outlined her mother’s lunacy and dysfunctionality in child rearing.

Desiring a reunion of Sidda and Vivi who are no longer speaking, the Ya Ya sisters kidnap Sidda and systematically share her mother’s tragic story, hoping to help Sidda understand and sympathize with her mother’s pain. They stop short of disclosing a deep secret they have been sworn never to reveal. It is that secret and its revelation that offer a way to reconciliation and an explanation for the distance that has separated Vivi from both her husband and daughter.

In the end it becomes apparent to the viewer that the husband and Ya Ya sisterhood have done a disservice to Vivi and Sidda in keeping the secret, but you never get the sense that they see that.

The Catholic religion takes some shots here with Vivi’s mother being a mentally unstable religious fanatic. Also, when on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Vivi is the recipient of some very misguided advice from a priest. Alcohol is a major problem for the Ya Ya Sister’s, but only one of them acknowledges it and gets help while the others continue to joke about it even after it nearly destroys Vivi. As in Thelma and Louise (another Callie Khouri project) the men are weak and the women loyal but dense, in this story that strains plausibility and leaves more questions unresolved than answered. It is a messy film, delivered randomly, which whether the result of intentionality or incompetence, mirrors reality in life and parent-child relationships.

Beliefs num
–Chances are real good that your memories of your childhood are highly inaccurate.
–Our memories of childhood are limited by our lack of perspective and information.
–Family members who love each other deeply can be separated by unresolved memories of the past.
–Secrets useful in resolving those differences should be revealed.
–The brightest and most wonderful person on earth can be changed through life’s tragedies.
–God and the church aren’t very useful in resolving life’s real problems.
–Men are background for the truly interesting individuals on the planet-women.
–There are some things for which you can never really be forgiven.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–In what sense did the sisterhood and Shep fail Vivi by not insisting she be more forthcoming with Sidda?
–Should a parent’s secrets from the past be disclosed to their adult children?
–Is it important for kids to adults to reconstruct a more accurate view of their childhood?
–Are there events and actions in life for which we can never expect to be forgiven?

Provocative Quotes byline
–This is the royal crown of our people. We are the mighty Ya Ya priestesses.
Let no man put us asunder.
==Vivi to her young girlfriends
–My mom the most charming wounded woman you’ll ever meet. I owe all m creativity to her. If I had an easy childhood I’d have nothing to write about.
==Sidda to TIME reporter.
–Ever since you stopped drinking you aren’t making any sense.
==Vivi to friend.
–She’s never gotten over anything in her God forsaken life.
==Sidda to Conner.
–We’re on a mission of mercy.
==Ya Ya Sisters when they kidnap Sidda.
–There are some things you don’t know that might change the way you feel about your mom.
==Ya Ya Sisters to Sidda.
–That book minus the chip on your shoulder is your ticket out of here.
==Ya Ya Sisters when they kidnap Sidda.
–Sooner or later everybody’s bill comes due. You gotta let the child feel the way she do.
==Willetta
–Shut your mouth you little prissy ass mamma’s boy.
==Spunky young Vivi to her racist cousin after he belittles Willetta.
–Ever since your momma came into the world she took up all the space in the room.
==Ya Ya Sisters to Sidda.
–Her father treated his horse better than his wife and your momma got caught in the crossfire.
==Ya Ya Sisters to Sidda.
–Whatever you did to make your father give that ring to you it is a mortal sin.
==Vivi’s mother to her when a teen.
–Give her back that goddam ring you catholic idiot.
==Vivi’s father berates the mother.
–How horrible to be hated by your own mother.
==Sidda begins to sympathize with her mother.
–You are a hell of a lot more normal than you have a right to be!
==Conner after a little exposure to Sidda’s friends and family.
–Stay there with them. I have a feeling these women know something you need to know.
==Conner’s advice to Sidda.
–Your daddy said he’d rather play second fiddle than not play in the band at all.
==Ya Ya Sisters to Sidda, explaining why Vivi married her father after her true love was killed in war.
–How long are you going to make yourself sad over something you can’t change?
==Vivi’s husband to a perpetually grieving Vivi.
–Why risk ruining our kids the way my momma ruined mine?
==Sidda rethinking getting married as she remembers the abuses of her childhood.
–Don’t mail out the invitations.
==Sidda threatening to call of her marriage to Conner.
–I don’t know if you ruined Sidda’s life or not but I know you are ruining mine.
==Conner to Vivi.
–Oh look it’s the biological fruit of my womb that rotted.
==Vivi’s sharp tongue as she imagines a reunion with Sidda.
–Your life long friends are programming your daughter to destroy you.
==Ya Ya Sisters to Vivi who has discovered they had Sidda.
–If there’s even one drop of that in me I don’t want to have children.
==Sidda explaining why she may never have children.
–She may be walking away from this guy. This is because of me. Help me out this one time and I’ll make it up to you.
==Vivi praying to God to fix things between Sidda and Conner.
–She doesn’t know shit and what she does know she’s made the worst of.
==Ya Ya sisters assessment of what Sidda understands about her childhood.
–The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the road back is paved with humility.
==Sidda’s dad Shep.
–You live with someone long enough and you can tell what they’re trying to hide by how they try to hide it.
==Shep.
–Daddy did you get loved enough?
==Sidda to Shep
–My question is did you?
==Shep back to Sidda.
–I have bad thoughts about my husband and children. I want to hurt my husband and abandon my children. I want to be famous.
==Vivi in confession as she nears a breakdown.
–Remain in perfect submission to God and your husband.
==Priests advice.
–All the real lasting damage I did to myself.
==Vivi to Conner as she is starting to see things more clearly.
–Did I ruin your life?
==Vivi to her husband Shep.
–When I married you it was for better or fore worse, it was a coin toss.
==Shep back to her.
–There was no shame in what happened. It was a different time. You can trust Sidda with it.
==Shep to Vivi.
–She didn’t leave you, but she was gone for six months. Since that time she never trusted herself.
==Ya Ya sisters to Sidda.
–We never talked about it. She made me swear I’d never tell a soul.
==Ya Ya and Shep explain why Sidda never learned the truth.
–My advice is that you remember the good times.
==Shep to Sidda.
–The fact is the truth hurts kiddo. There are some things for which I don’t expect to be forgiven, not by my children ort even by God.
==Vivi to Sidda.
–All those times I prayed. Make me better, stronger. I just realized I finally got my answer. YOU! You are all I ever wanted.
==Vivi to Sidda.
–I love you momma. I love you too sunflower.
==Mother and child reconciliation.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in June 7, 2002 by | No Comments »

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