Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

4.3 20
Director: Callie Khouri

Cast: Callie Khouri, Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn, Ashley Judd


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Screenwriter Callie Khouri makes her directorial debut with this adaptation of a pair of popular novels by author Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. Sandra Bullock stars as Sidda Lee Walker, a New York playwright who opens a can of emotional worms with her estranged, boozy mother, Vivi (Ellen Burstyn),See more details below


Screenwriter Callie Khouri makes her directorial debut with this adaptation of a pair of popular novels by author Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. Sandra Bullock stars as Sidda Lee Walker, a New York playwright who opens a can of emotional worms with her estranged, boozy mother, Vivi (Ellen Burstyn), when she discusses her painful childhood and particularly Vivi's less-than-enviable mothering skills in a Time magazine article. The eccentric Louisiana drama queen Vivi has already been barred from her daughter's oft-delayed wedding to her fiancé, Connor (Angus Macfadyen), so the article sends her into a rage. Coming to the rescue of the relationship are Necie (Shirley Knight), Caro (Maggie Smith), and Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan), a trio of bickering women, who, along with Vivi, formed a secret society of feminist empowerment and friendship 60 years earlier that they dubbed the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood." The Ya-Yas kidnap Sidda and bring her home to Louisiana, where they reveal to Sidda via a carefully maintained scrapbook her mother's painful past (with Vivi portrayed in flashback by Ashley Judd), effecting a rapprochement between mother and daughter. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood also stars James Garner.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
Callie Khouri, who penned the Oscar-winning script for Thelma and Louise, returns to "chick flick" territory for her directing debut, an adaptation of Rebecca Wells’s megaselling novels Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. Sandra Bullock stars as Sidda, a successful, 40-ish playwright who is estranged from her mother, Vivi, a gorgeous, charismatic, alcoholic, and thoroughly unstable southern belle (played, at different stages of her life, by Ellen Burstyn and Ashley Judd). Vivi belongs to a quartet of feisty, hard-drinking matrons (Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan , and Shirley Knight fill out the group) who call themselves the Ya-Yas -- a quasi-mystical sisterhood they formed as girls growing up in a small bayou town. Deciding it’s high time that Vivi and her daughter mended their fences, the Ya-Yas whisk Sidda back to Louisiana, where they reveal the secrets behind Vivi's emotional state and explain how the Ya-Yas sustained each other through life’s travails. Khouri, who also wrote the script, borrows some elements from the decidedly darker Little Altars, but the film’s story and spirit hew much closer to the wish-fulfilling Divine Secrets. There is no shortage of rueful sentimentality as the narrative veers, sometimes clumsily, between flashbacks and present-day events. Missing are the sharp details of southern provincial life that make the books (particularly Little Altars) so vivid, but the performances keep the film crackling. Judd is incandescent as the young Vivi, as is Burstyn in the character’s older incarnation, while veteran actresses Smith, Flanagan, and Knight provide delightful support. Bittersweet and funny, The Divine Secrets is a warmhearted tribute to the unbreakable bonds between mothers, daughters, and lifelong friends.
All Movie Guide
Another popular women's novel joins the sorority of Southern chick flicks with Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which counts Fried Green Tomatoes and How to Make an American Quilt among its precursors. It commits few obvious gaffes, but in a genre this familiar, with such select appeal, a film needs at least one strong departure to attain distinction. Without that, it's too much of the generic recipe, equal parts regional whimsy and tepid melodrama. One problem is that the film hasn't much to do with the sisterhood in question, nor the perfunctory mysticism that binds it together. Hence, the viewer struggles to integrate this gaggle of quirky yentas into the worthier tale of mental instability passed through the generations. It's a shame that director Callie Khouri can't make better use of Ashley Judd and the risks she takes as a mother coming unglued. Instead of the incisive directness one might expect from the scribe who wrote Thelma & Louise, Khouri fumbles Judd's illness by failing to attribute it to anything concrete, generating doubt toward the character rather than a needed sympathy. Meanwhile, Khouri opts to handle the present tense in a manner just this side of broad comedy. Picky fans may quibble with other alterations to Rebecca Wells' material, such as softening James Garner's character from dysfunctional collaborator to guiltless victim. The less discriminating ones will probably be as content as need be, and savor the film's soul-searching agenda.
Los Angeles Times
A work of excess and passion, an untidy sprawl of a motion picture that is sometimes ragged, occasionally uncertain, but -- and this is what's important -- always warm, accessible and rich in emotional life. Kenneth Turan
New York Observer
Despite the heart it wears on its sleeve, this movie brings back real women, and beneath the taffeta and the taffy, there's the actual stuff of real human conflict. Rex Reed

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sandra Bullock Sidda Lee Walker
Ellen Burstyn Vivi Abbott Walker
Ashley Judd Younger Vivi Abbott Walker
Fionnula Flanagan Teensy
Maggie Smith Caro
Cherry Jones Buggy
Shirley Knight Necie
James Garner Shep Walker
Angus MacFadyen Connor McGill
Allison Bertolino Little Sidda Lee Walker
Caitlin Wachs Little Vivi Abbott
Jacqueline McKenzie Younger Teensy
Katy Selverstone Younger Caro
Kiersten Warren Younger Necie
Leslie Silva Willetta
Matthew Settle Jack
Gina McKee Genevieve
David Lee Smith Younger Shep Walker
Ron Dortch Chaney
Frederick Koehler Pete Abbott
David Rasche Taylor Abbott
Boyd Kestner Actor
Mark Jeffrey Miller Lyle
Austin R. Cooper Little Shep Jr.
Sarah Huck Lulu
Alex Cooper Baylor
Alyssa May Gold Little Teensy
Mary Katherine Weiss Little Caro
Nicki Tschudi Little Necie
Deborah Hobart Aunt Louise
Clint Lienau James Jr.
David Bridgewater Dr. Beau Poche
Sarallen Older Willetta
Veda Wilson Shirley
Mark Joy Mr. Whitman
Michael Mattison Officer Roscoe Jenkins
Gillian Johnson Younger Chick
Barbara Weetman Female Interviewer
Suellen Yates Stage Manager
Don Baker Confessional Priest
E. Michael Hewett Airplane Man
Robert Longstreet Pilot
Nina Repeta Lady at Gas Station
Michael Moyer Pawn Broker
Taj Mahal Swing Band Singer
Ann Savoy Chanteuse
Ursula Burton Sister Solange

Technical Credits
Callie Khouri Director,Screenwriter
Mark Andrus Screenwriter
John Bailey Cinematographer
Debra Baum Consultant/advisor
Wendy Bell Makeup
David J. Bomba Production Designer
Karen Brigman Stunts
Bonnie Bruckheimer Producer
T-Bone Burnett Score Composer
Marty Cherrix Casting
Cheryle Cravedi Costumes/Costume Designer
Creo Special Effects
Scott Elias Associate Producer
James Edward Ferrell Set Decoration/Design
E.K. Gaylord Executive Producer
Anette Haellmigk Camera Operator
Petur Hliddal Sound/Sound Designer
Carol Lin James Stunts
John Jensen Art Director
Gary Jones Costumes/Costume Designer
Allan Kaufman Consultant/advisor
Avy Kaufman Casting
Darrell Leonard Musical Arrangement
Hunt Lowry Producer
Malcolm MacIntosh Camera Operator
David Mansfield Score Composer
Andrew Marcus Editor
Joyce Marling Costumes/Costume Designer
John Martin Stunts
Mary McLaglen Executive Producer
Donna Evans Merlo Stunts
Bette Midler Executive Producer
Tree O'Toole Stunts
Mike Piersante Sound Mixer
Tom Proper Associate Producer
Charlene Roberson Makeup
Matthew Rowland Asst. Director
Rob Simons Set Decoration/Design
Lisa Stewart Executive Producer
Michael Tackett Cinematographer
Michaell Keith Taylor Costumes/Costume Designer
Joel Voorhies Costumes/Costume Designer
Pamela Westmore Makeup
Frank Wolf Sound Mixer

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