02 December 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker)

I don't entirely remember why 'Fried Green Tomatoes in the Whistle Stop Café' (just 'Fried Green Tomatoes' in the USA) was on our shelves; probably it was recommended to me by Amazon some time ago, based on my preferences, and I put it on my wishlist. Whatever the reason, we decided to watch it a couple of nights ago. The back cover promised us a 'warm, touching and greatly amusing tale about the importance of love and friendship'.

To start with, we meet Evelyn (Kathy Bates), an overweight and rather depressed woman in a marriage which has lost all hint of sparkle. She has tried all kinds of classes to help her become more assertive, to eat less, or to make her husband interested in her, but none of them has helped. Then she meets Ninny (Jessica Tandy), an elderly - but lively - lady in a nursing home.

Ninny starts to tell Evelyn about events in her family's past, beginning back in Alabama in the 1920 when a terrible tragedy marred the life of young Idgie. In classic film style, we see the events of the past as if they were happening in a parallel world - and this continues throughout the film, interspersing Evelyn's growing friendship with Ninny, with anecdotes about Idgie, now grown up, and her close friend Ruth.

The theme is indeed about the importance of love and friendship, with subplot showing a bit of social history, as we see just how bad racial intolerance was in part of the US, less than a hundred years ago. There is a crime mystery too, the horrors of an abusive marriage, and some poignancy as the aging Ninny hopes to go back to her own home...

I would not have called this film 'greatly amusing', although there are certainly some humorous moments in the 1990s scenarios with Evelyn as she tries various methods to make her husband interested in her, and then later as she begins to become more assertive.

The rating of 12 (UK) or PG-13 (USA) seem appropriate, since there is some bad language and violence, and a great deal of other implied violence too. However, we both thought it was extremely well done, with excellent casting for all characters, and quite moving in places. The ending was somewhat open, but satisfying nonetheless.


Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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