Saturday, May 18, 2019

Fried Green Tomatoes

Movie Name: Fried Green Tomatoes
Year of Release: 1991
Director: Jon Avnet
Starring: Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary Louise Parker, Cicely Tyson, Chris O'Donnell, Stan Shaw, Gailard Sartain, Timothy Scott, Gary Basaraba, Lois Smith, Jo Harvey Allen, Richard Riehle, Raynor Scheine, Nick Searcy
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6 
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Following a prolific producing career which started in the 70s, Jon Avnet ventured into feature directorial territory with "Fried Green Tomatoes" (following a few directorial credits in TV). The film is an adaptation of the book by Fannie Flagg, and focuses on the lives of women in two very distinct timelines. In the 1980s, the film focuses on the story of Evelyn Couch, a somewhat timid housewife, who feels somewhat adrift, and who meets an older lady in a nursing home in Anderson, Alabama. The two strike a friendship, and Ninny Threadgoode (the older lady), starts narrating stories of her hometown, Whistle Stop, in particular the story surrounding Idgie Threadgoode. This story takes place in Alabama, in the 30s/40s, and details the growing pains of Idgie as she loses her older brother, and the relationship she forms with her former sister in law, who becomes her dearest friend. When Ruth is forced into an abusive marriage, Idgie shows up to save her, alongside the help of her staff. Ruth is pregnant, delivers a young boy, and she and Idgie start a cafe, well known for their barbecue. Sadly Ruth's sadistic husband, shows up to get her child, but is unable to do so, and eventually shows up dead, getting Idgie and her friends in trouble. Ninny continues to narrate these stories to Evelyn, including the outcome of these dramatic events, and they slowly have an impact on Evelyn's own life, who progressively finds her own voice.
"Fried Green Tomatoes" is a well executed film that primarily lives from the fantastic cast that Jon Avnet assembled. The characters, particularly the ones portrayed by Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary Louise Parker, are the ones with the lion share of the story, though it's interesting to see the arc given to Kathy Bates' character. Her progression from mousy housewife, to a woman with ambition, though not dramatically enacted, is still rewarding, mostly due to the fantastic performance from Kathy Bates. It's a somewhat placid film, that does play like a higher caliber tv film, but one that does lack a more distinct point of view, and a director with the willingness to tackle some issues that the film alludes to, but never presents openly, such as lesbianism, racism and domestic abuse. Still it's a testament to the impeccable cast assembled, that the film remains watchable and enjoyable. The score from Thomas Newman is fantastic as is the cinematography from Geoffrey Simpson. Worth watching.