At the end of her rope with her teenage daughter, Lilly (Felicity Huffman, making the best of role that requires little more of her than to drink) drives cross-country from San Francisco to her childhood home in Idaho, where Rachel (Lindsay Lohan, pla...

Georgia Rule

on May 11, 2007 by Annlee Ellingson
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At the end of her rope with her teenage daughter, Lilly (Felicity Huffman, making the best of role that requires little more of her than to drink) drives cross-country from San Francisco to her childhood home in Idaho, where Rachel (Lindsay Lohan, playing the version of herself we're familiar with from the tabloids) will spend the summer with her grandmother Georgia (Jane Fonda, fabulous in a t-shirt and jeans). Rachel quickly makes an impression—“She was raised in California,” Georgia explains—laying her feminine wiles on the local veterinarian/physician Simon (Dermot Mulroney) and wholesome Harlan (Garrett Hedlund).

Although it appears that this Lolita has finally met her match—in one of their first conversations, strictly conservative, devoutly religious Grandma tells Rachel to “go f--k youself.”—it soon becomes clear that there may be a reason for her rebellious behavior: Rachel claims her stepfather Arnold (Cary Elwes) started molesting her at age 12. Whether her mother and grandmother believe her becomes the film's—and the audience's—central conflict.

Putting aside for a moment a misleading promotional campaign that suggests this tri-generational mother-daughter drama would be a benign outing for Mother's Day, Georgia Rule wants to have its cake and eat it, too: Okay, so Rachel recognizes poems by Ezra Pound and music by Bach, but does a girl who her mother supposedly found out on the streets doing crank ever really get into Vassar?

Also bothersome is its take on Midwest America. Set in a Mormon community, Georgia Rule takes city folks' visions of idyllic small towns to the extremes of dowdy receptionists in blowsy floral print dresses; virgin farm boys; and meddling do-gooder girls who march down Main Street with banners and batons even when there's not a parade. Further, the filmmaking suffers from sloppy segues between scenes, with some transitional information apparently left on the cutting-room floor.

Still, there are some great one-liners here—both of the punchy and poignant varieties—and interesting thematic beats having to do with public versus private suffering; love versus sex, and what happens when you never learn the difference; whether lying can ever be the right thing to do; and the healing power of redemption and forgiveness. —Annlee Ellingson
Distributor: Universal
Cast: Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, Felicity Huffman, Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes and Garrett Hedlund
Director: Garry Marshall
Screenwriter: Mark Andrus
Producers: James G. Robinson and David Robinson
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for sexual content and some language
Running time: 113 min.
Release date: May 11, 2007
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