Thursday, January 26, 2012
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
(December 1991, U.S.)
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES is one of those dramas that I find necessary to revisit every once in a while to remind myself of a time when major studios like Universal were still releasing Oscar-worthy films that didn't involve special effects or any computer generated bullshit. It's also happens to be a damn good movie. It tells the story of a Depression-era friendship between two women, Ruth (played by Mary Louise Parker) and Idgie (played by Mary Stuart Masterson), and a 1980's friendship between Evelyn (played by Kathy Bates), a middle-aged housewife, and Ninny (played by Jessica Tandy), an elderly woman who knew Ruth and Idgie when they were young. The centerpiece and parallel story concerns the murder of Ruth's abusive husband and the accusations that follow. And as a predictable Hollywood move, the lesbian content from the original novel is generally removed. Still, if you're paying close enough attention and reading between the lines, you can clearly see the "intent", no matter how ambiguous.
The film's subplot concerns Evelyn's dissatisfaction with her marriage and her life, her growing confidence, and her developing friendship with Ninny. The narrative switches several times between Ninny's story, which is set between World War I and World War II, and Evelyn's life in 1980's Birmingham. Through Ninny's story of Ruth and Idgie, Evelyn manages to find her own sense of strength and self-worth. It's impressive and even fun to watch her finally takes charge of herself and even display anger that's necessary to combat everyday people who are rude and inconsiderate. The scene with the parking space is practically classic in that I'm sure we're all wanted to take some sort of action against assholes who take the space we were waiting for.
Two spoilers coming now: the final scene of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES is quite intruiging when Evelyn and Ninny pass Ruth's grave (she died young of cancer), freshly adorned with a jar of honey and honeycomb and a card which reads " I will always Love You. The Bee Charmer," Ruth's old nickname for Idgie. It becomes apparent that Ninny WAS Idgie and has been telling the tale of her own life the entire time. It's a revelation that could be called predictable, but it puts an irresistable smile on your face, nonetheless.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Evelyn Couch: "Excuse me, I was waiting for that spot."
Girl #1: "Face it, lady, we're younger and faster!"
(Evelyn gets angry and rear-ends the girl's car six times)
Girl #1: "What are you DOING?"!?
Girl #2: "Are you CRAZY!?"
Evelyn: "Face it, girls, I'm older and I have more insurance."