Postcards from the Edge

Meryl Streep stars as Susanne, an actor approaching middle age and recently out of rehab, trying to navigate her way through the turbulent waters of the Hollywood film industry under the unwanted supervision of her former startlet mother (Shirley MacLaine).

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Based on the Carrie Fisher’s semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards is ably adapted to the big screen by Fisher herself, who shows the same knack for writing screenplays she has for novels.

The book is told entirely in first person, allowing us direct access to Susanne’s thoughts, whereas on screen there’s inevitably a greater focus on incident. Susanne’s time in a rehab clinic, which forms the first half of the book, is here dealt with in a fleeting scene, with the rest of the film covering her rehabilitation into life itself.

But the screenplay is peppered with Fisher’s unique humour and acerbic one-liners so never feels far from the book in spite of the differences in story. The character of Susanne is made older – it’s not clear if this is a cause or consequence of Streep’s casting – and her mother given a bigger role, portrayed the excellent Shirley MacLaine (Fisher’s real-life mother Debbie Reynolds was told she ‘wasn’t right’ for the part).

The two have great screen chemistry, and are supported by a strong all-round cast including Gene Hackman, Dennis Quaid, Richard Dreyfuss and Rob Reiner, with Howard Shore overseeing the music.

As self-indulgent Hollywood movies go, this is top of the range, a kind of Singin’ in the Rain for the 1980s. Except that actually had Debbie Reynolds in it.

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