Georgia Rule (2007)

I always enjoy a movie directed by Garry Marshall, because first and foremost, this guy knows how to tell a good story. His typical film is a tight, character driven drama, and Georgia Rule is a prototypical example of this type of film.

Complementing this director are three generations of Hollywood's leading ladies: Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, and Lindsay Lohan. Rounding out the cast are Dermot Mulroney, and Garrett Hedlund (who I first saw in Eragon). Certainly more than enough talent to make a good film.

The drama focuses on the three generations of women, and the conflict between Grandmother, mother, and granddaughter. Fonda plays Georgia, a domineering matriarch who lives life according to a strict protocol, hence the title Georgia Rule. This has driven her daughter, Lilly (Huffman) off from the family homestead in Idaho, to California where she is married to a high powered attorney. For the summer, Lilly decides that her daughter, Rachel (Lohan) has become too much to handle, and the plan is to drop her off for a while before she packs up to go east for college.

The film goes from conflict to conflict. We begin with Rachel walking outside her mother's car as they approach the town in Idaho as she prematurely parts ways with her mother. Lohan is perfectly cast as the rambunctious "rebel without a clue," as she personifies in real life. Next, Rachel and Georgia have different ideas of a summer vacation when her grandma signs up her to work at the local vets office. It's kind of funny to see the townspeople getting their medical care from the local vet, Simon, played by Mulroney. (As an aside, while this may seem ridiculous at first, the town is kind of small, and the nearest doctor may have been miles away. I also know more than one MD that was fed up with their vet bills and got meds for their animals, so while not encouraging this, I could see it happening the other way). We also have the makings of a love triangle as Rachel attempts to seduce the local Mormon teen, Harlan (Hedlund).

Lest you think the entire film is formulaic, and just small town idyllic Idaho living, we next take a turn into the more serious. Rachel blurts out that she has been sexually abused, by her father. This shocking revelation, coming from one so rebellious and not exactly reliable, then forms the basis of the rest of the drama. Her mother returns from California to get to the bottom of things, followed by the father. Marshall expertly directs this so that for the rest of the film, it's purposely fuzzy if the allegation is true or not up until the very end.

Georgia Rule is a tight drama, that kept my attention throughout. The dialogue is well done, and each of the characters is multidimensional- there are no stereotypes here, even among the lesser characters. This film takes on the difficult subject matter of child sexual abuse by a family member, and gives it a dignified treatment, which is far more common than many would want to admit. While this is not exactly "family friendly entertainment," it does make for a moving motion picture. Check it out when you get a chance.

Overall Grade: A


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