In 2009 this film seems dated, but thanks to actress Sally Field, it packs an emotional punch which modern feminist films have signally failed to do. The screenplay never throws off its stage-play roots, and is irritatingly wordy at times, but performances from Sally Field and Julia Roberts add depth and resonance to the main theme, which is the continuity of life in the face of adversity. . . . Obviously an inspiration for the successful `Brothers and Sisters` series ,which also stars the inimitable Sally Field. This film reaches the `places in the heart` where many`auteur` films refuse to go because of fear of a feminist backlash. .. . Weddings, babies, hairdressing-salons . . . it's a woman's world and it is a significant one, and one that should not be devalued by feminist rhetoric.
Time Out saysThe loves, lives and losses of six Southern women of different ages, fortunes and temperaments, united by a feisty self-confidence, irrepressible humour, and steely fortitude in the face of life's setbacks. It takes place over several years - much of it set in the beauty parlour run by Dolly Parton - from the wedding of beautiful Shelby Eatenton (Roberts), through the birth of her first child and her untimely death. The plot's main thrust deals with diabetic Shelby's determination, against the wishes of her mom (Field) to have a child despite the risks. Thanks to Field's no-nonsense performance, this potentially maudlin scenario is briskly handled. Set against flower-like Shelby (a strong, sensitive characterisation by Roberts) are two raddled fairy godmothers: MacLaine and Dukakis, revelling in some wonderful one-liners. With all the male characters kept strictly functional, it makes a shameless bid for your heart, aiming to have you smiling one moment, sniffling the next.