Sisters… We take their things and compete with them. We fight with them, in the process hurling hurtful insults at each other, and leave things unsaid. But at the end of the day, we’d do anything for them, because they’re the best friend always there; and we love them. Dozens of films, books and songs have explored the bond between sisters. Perhaps though none is more famous to we costume drama buffs than Austen’s iconic Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility. No matter how good they are, I don’t think I’ve seen the topic so well-written as in the 2005 film In Her Shoes. For a variety of reasons I never watched the movie and only now am sorry that I didn’t sooner.
The story revolves around two mismatched sisters whose definition of “fun” means two completely different things. One is a responsible, successful lawyer; the other is an irresponsible slacker who relies on her looks to get what she wants. Already too different to function normally around each other, the two of them eventually part on the worst of terms.
The girls were two peas in a pod as children partly because they lost their mother at a young age. I’m not going to pretend that the choices these women make are right (they aren’t). But the fact that they still want the best for their best friend is a testament to their bond. Good heavens if I judge everyone’s relationship with their siblings, that wouldn’t be a right I’d be justified in exercising. Don’t we all make mistakes? While some of Rose and Maggie’s are pure misery, I know I made choices that, looking back I’d change.
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The sister relationship I have is a little unconventional (we’re related but as cousins), but I love my “sister” – a lot. As little girls, we were inseparable and in spite of our quibbles and petty grievances, we did everything together. (Including Liz putting up with me exercising my typical big sister “rights” – and, trust me when I say I was little Miss Bossy.) Now as “adults,” we’ve grown apart compared to our childhood bond; she and I are 100% percent different and we want drastically different things, to say nothing of our personal tastes and styles. That doesn’t mean that if she needs something – big or small, I wouldn’t do whatever I could for her.
Rose and Maggie annoyed each other to no end but they were the other half of each other’s hearts; the glue that held the other together – they were sisters. Their journey made me cry and laugh, react and pause: it got me thinking. The animosity between the girls might be exaggerated, but nevertheless, the fact that we let our anger, hurt and resentment fester is a sobering reality. Then all those arguments and angst just makes the grudge childish and ultimately damaging.
If you’ve seen this, hopefully you pick up on some of the beautiful truisms. (Some who are more rigid in their viewing may not have been able to separate the bad from the good.) A sister is someone you want to giggle over silly things with or tell secrets too. She is someone you want to be around when you need to be called on something – even if it hurts at the time. Your sister is the person you want standing beside you when you say “I do,” she is a confidant… she is… your friend. Whenever I am thinking about the relationships between sisters, my mind normally always wanders to the upbeat tune “Sisters” from Irving Berlins White Christmas. For some reason I LOVE that song. Traditions and generations have portrayed sisterhood as a beautiful thing – and it is, or sometimes even a comical relationship but there is also always going to be conflict. There is going to be differing opinions – you are two completely different human beings.
Rose is too fed up with Maggie to try and have a genuine heart-to-heart with her sister, to help her rather than chastise her. Maggie is too much of a flake to care one way or another, but she didn’t respect her sister enough to listen. They’re too busy calling each “stupid” or making fun of the other’s looks to focus on the fact that without mutual support, they’re lost. Having dissension in your relationships is okay, but don’t let it ruin the rapport you have with your sister.
Sometimes what we all need to remember is to listen, to hold our tongue before something ugly comes out. Once the words are out, they’re there forever. And no matter who the people are that may pass though our lives, or how many, a sister is always going to be just that – your sister.