The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)

Vivian is a distraught woman plagued by mental illness. After losing her first true love in World War two she marries ‘second best’ to placate her family. Her mother hates her since she sees her as decadent and to top it all off, she has wild mood swings and alcoholism. She barely could function as a mother when not breaking down. So in a nutshell- yes, she didn’t provide the stereotypical sense of motherly love as demanded by conservative ideologies; the important thing, however, is that she tried.

All of this, however, is not known to her daughter who after becoming a play-hand is interviewed for Time magazine where she spills the beans about her mother. She talks of how her childhood was far from perfect and how her mother seemed constantly depressed. Oddly enough this enrages her mother; the truth hurts, after all. And so begins a gigantic emotional, generational divide coalescing in the surmounting of marriage difficulties and parental troubles. In all the plot of mother-daughter conflict the tale is endearing. It shows how there is two sides to every story and how it always pays to get to know your forefathers.

Though some aspects of the film are as cheesy as they come, what with the concept of a girls club maturing into this tightly knit bond, others are mature; the depiction of struggling with the realities of mental illness is respectfully told. No hyperbolic mise-en-scene moments abound and the soundtrack is classic southern yet subdued in a manner which does not overwhelm the viewer. No huge missteps are taken. I am happy to report that the plot is mixed between light-hearted moments and serious, dramatic moments (as is deserving of a family coming to terms with their secrets). Over all the film is a great experience. I would call it above average; not a masterpiece but better than your average tear jerker.

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