Grace has a problem with her chosen mate, but so does Momma in the Southern-style comedy-drama “Something to Talk About.” An entertaining family feud, with cheatin’ husbands and riled-up wives confronting age-old human weaknesses, the well-crafted production features an all-star cast captained by Julia Roberts in a solid, fan-pleasing performance.
Universal appeal of the subject matter and a dream lineup of talent all bode well for the lively film written by Callie Khouri (“Thelma & Louise”) and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (“My Life as a Dog”).
Marred only by a run-on conclusion that undermines one’s understanding of and trust of the characters, “Something to Talk About” boasts great lines and individual scenes. Although there is a strong theme of female revenge in the plot, the film is not so much radical as rational.
Gentrified Grace (Roberts) - whose life is occupied with charity work, homemaking and horses - basically falls apart when she discovers that former college sweetheart and hubby Eddie (Dennis Quaid) has been sleeping around. Moving out and taking daughter Caroline (Haley Aull), she turns to her family for support when Eddie not only fesses up but lists his grievances in a marriage that’s clearly coming apart.
Her arrogant horse-breeding father Wyly (Robert Duvall) is succinctly opposed to a permanent split because of a pending business deal with Eddie, but it’s learned later that Dad has got a history that similarly explodes the life of Georgia (Gena Rowlands), Grace’s live-and-let-live mother.
With several terrific scenes, Kyra Sedgwick as take-no-prisoners Emma Rae provides Grace with sisterly backup in chastising Eddie and confronting their father. Even Grace’s saintly Aunt Rae (Anne Shropshire) gets into the spirit, coming up with a severe form of reprisal when a reconciliation is attempted.
The well-paced scenario finds Grace torn between the forgive-and-forget largess of traditional Southern womanhood and a strong desire for independence.
Roberts shows restraint in what could have been an overblown performance. Ditto Quaid and Duvall, who play lovable scoundrels cruising for a bruising. Rowlands, Shropshire and Brett Cullen, as a dashing horse trainer attracted to Grace, are all excellent.
Set in the world of thoroughbred horses, the film has regional charm to spare, with Swedish storyteller Hallstrom delivering another classy, character-driven slice-of-Americana in the same easygoing style of “Once Around” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “Something To Talk About” Locations: East Sprague, Lyons and Coeur d’Alene cinemas. Credits: Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, starring Julia Roberts, Dennis Quaid, Robert Duvall, Gena Rowlands, Kyra Sedgwick, Brett Cullen, Haley Aull, Muse Watson, Anne Shropshire Running time: 1:45 Rating: R