This is a film that has suffered from the worst marketing campaign ever, which takes in a lot of films, believe me. No one in their right mind would see "Georgia Rule" based on the trailer, which seems to be some kind of an unfunny comedy, and yet the fact is that it is a sad and honest view of a real-life tragedy, marred only by the fact that its director is the sadly untalented Garry Marshall. I kept thinking if only someone with talent - anyone - had directed the film. However, now comes the tricky part: I'm going to give away the secret of the film, because without it there's no there there, so please be warned; if you're planning to see the film don't read on. Let me tell you that although it's not perfect, and it's not, it is damn good and well worth seeing. So if you're listening to this, turn the radio off and turn it on again in 1 minute 37 seconds.
The film is the story of 17-year-old Rachel (Lindsay Lohan), who's sent to her grandmother in Idaho (actually filmed in California) because she's out of control - she lies, she sleeps around, she takes drugs, she didn't complete her Vassar application - you know. Her grandmother is the rigid Jane Fonda, who has house rules for every single thing. Rachel's mother (Felicity Huffman), who is an alcoholic, has driven her up from San Francisco, at her wit's end. What to do with Rachel? Or her mother, for that matter?
Well, the first thing is to listen to her, because she tells a story of how she's been sexually abused by her stepfather (Cary Elwes), from the age of 12; of course no one believes her; and so it goes; they believe her, then they don't, then - well, let me just leave it there. Surprisingly, and maybe not so surprisingly after all, Lohan is just superb; maybe the tabloids got it right and maybe they didn't. In any case, she shows wonderful acting chops here, and let's remember that we gave Robert Downey Jr. a free pass; let's not be too hard on Lohan. And probably only Jane Fonda could play Georgia and make us believe it; the part would usually have gone to Diane Keaton, but she would have made her too sympathetic, too gooey for the part.
And Felicity Huffman, who plays an underwritten role but brings wonderful riches to the part of the mother, along with Dermot Mulroney, a Veterinarian in town who becomes Lohan's friend and was once Felicity's lover but now mourns the death of his wife and son. But the heart of the film and what it hinges on is the love we feel for Rachel, the Lohan character, who has that screen magnetism that when she's on screen we only look at her.
But Garry Marshall has directed this as though it were a sitcom - another episode of Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy or Happy Days: set em up, shoot the scene, do another one. Too bad a real director wasn't available.