Reviewed by: Halyna Barannik
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd, Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan | Directed by: Callie Khouri | Produced by: Bonnie Bruckheimer, Hunt Lowry | Written by: Mark Andrus, Callie Khouri, Rebecca Wells | Distributor: Warner Brothers
“The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” may seem to be about a girl’s club in which the members call themselves Ya-Yas, but it really is a story about the reconciliation between mother and daughter and the healing of old wounds. It is also about the sins of the fathers (in this case, the mothers) passed down through generations.
Holding the movie together are Sandra Bullock, who plays Siddie, and Ellen Burstyn, who plays her mother, Vivvie. Both are dynamic performers who deliver the emotional intensity that the story line requires. The supporting cast is pretty stellar also, with Maggie Smith, Shirley Knight, Fionnula Flanagan and James Garner rounding out the cast. The film uses flashbacks, presented logically, to explain past history (with Ashley Judd playing the young Vivvie). Little by little we learn about the lost loves, deep sorrows, family troubles, public humiliations which lead to despair, nervous breakdowns, and alcoholism. Despite the rather silly demeanor of the ya-yas and the costumes they wear during their club meetings, the thematic line of this film is a serious examination of what happens to someone too weak to deal with life’s problems.
From the spiritual perspective, the movie sprinkles references to Catholic beliefs, but otherwise, there is nothing that could be called truly spiritual in thematic content. The characters turn to each other for strength and support. Although there is not much cursing and fornication, so common in today’s movie culture, there is quite a bit of explicit and implicit reference to magic. The ya-yas perform a blood ritual to cement their eternal bond to each other and they pray to nature, worshipping forces and spirits other than God.
On a positive note, as Sidda realizes the hardships and heartaches her mother experienced, she is able to forgive her, and Vivvie, on her end, accepts responsibility for her failings. The movie succeeds in pulling all the bad and good factors together and gives us a fairly peaceful ending of love and forgiveness.
By the way, for those of you who may not be aware of the meaning of the title of this movie, “Ya-ya” is a slang name for “vagina.” [ChristianSpotlight Publisher]