Movie Review: Postcards from the Edge (1990)

Back when Carrie Fisher crashes and turns… her life around
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright

Directed by Mike Nichols
Book and screenplay written
by Carrie Fisher

Meryl Streep …. Suzanne Vale
Shirley MacLaine …. Doris Mann
Dennis Quaid …. Jack Faulkner
Gene Hackman …. Lowell
Richard Dreyfuss …. Doctor Frankenthal
Rob Reiner …. Joe Pierce
Annette Bening …. Evelyn Ames

Mary Wickes …. Grandma

Readers of my site know I often like to delve into the past for movies and books that are classics, at least to me.  Postcards from the Edge is such a piece for a number of reasons:

  • Mike Nichols directs—One of the true masters of Hollywood with such giants as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Silkwood (1983), Working Girl (1988), and Primary Colors (1998).
  • Carrie Fisher writes—She was on her way to becoming an American sweetheart, a 70s sexed-up version of her mother, Debbie Reynolds, as Princess Leia in Star Wars (1977).  She had less central roles in subsequent movies including The Blues Brothers (1980) and Hanna and Her Sisters (1986), and she also displayed substantial writing and singing skills.
  • Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine act—Playing Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds-like characters, respectively, these two provide a cinematic tour de force of the timelessly troubled Hollywood daughter-mother relationship.
  • The times reveal—Culture is partly defined by artworks undertaken by celebs, particularly movies. This movie sends up some largely hopeful signs of the times.

While I’m on the subject of positive vibes, the culminating scene of Postcards is full of life-affirming emotional fuel, at least for several women I know and care deeply for. That scene features the rehabbed Carrie character (Streep) belting out the ultimate upbeat tune about conquering addictions: “I’m Checkin’ Out… of this Heartbreak Hotel.”

It works for me.  And I know it’s meaningful on even a deeper level for a lot of women… maybe for this day and age in particular.

My own manly feelings about the film are not so warm and fuzzy, but watching it again recently off the DVD I have to say the dialog and story are cleverly engaging.  Carrie Fisher is a first-rate writer and observer of the human condition.  Some of her lines for her character are worthy of another Carrie… Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. 🙂

I’ll leave you with this one from the IMDB site:

Jack Faulkner (Dennis Quaid): “I do not like this side of you.”
Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep): “I’m not a box, I don’t have sides. This is it, one side fits all.”

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