"I don't believe our loved ones make our lives; but loving them does."
~Sarah Ashby McClure
WOW. This movie is just one big WOW. That was about all I could say for a while after finishing it.
I think I'd seen this movie at the library before, but I never paid much attention to it until I found it in a box of DVDs at a yard sale the other day. If you don't already know this, I have a thing for historical miniseries from the 80's and 90's. They have a sort of magnetic draw to me; I can't resist them. The case intrigued me, and when I read the synopsis I thought, Texas revolution?! Civil War?! The Old South!? Music by Bruce Broughton?!? That did it; I was sold. I got it for only a buck. Pretty good deal, huh?
True Women follows the lives of three women over the course of many years; sisters Sarah Ashby McClure and Euphemia Ashby King, and Southern belle Georgia Virginia Lawshe Wood. It tells the story of their struggles, the changes they endure, the people they loved, the near-death experiences they overcome, and how they live through it all.
For the first hour or so of the movie, I didn't enjoy it much. People kept dying. There were nasty people doing nasty things. John Schneider came and went in about as long as it takes me to blink my eyes. (I don't approve of John Schneider being given small, unimportant roles, you see.) It was a little scary. But then, all of a sudden, it got really good. And then it got better and better...and by the end I was weeping with the unbearably beautiful agony and ecstasy of the thing.
Sarah Ashby McClure (Dana Delaney) is sort of the main character for most of the first half of the movie. When her husband Bartlett (Powers Booth), a Texas Ranger, is called to help General Sam Houston's army drive Santa Anna back, General Houston puts Sarah in charge of getting the women left behind to safety.
Sarah was a tough case; I didn't know whether to love her or hate her. Sometimes I felt like saying, "You go, girl!" while at other times I just wanted to tell her to shut up, for heavens' sake. Sarah's not very delicate. She's tough and she won't tolerate lily-livered people. She might point a shotgun at you if you don't do what she tells you. But despite being a little scary, her strength has an admirable side too. In the end, I had decided to like her after all.
Georgia Virginia Lawshe (Angelina Jolie) is a (somewhat spoiled) Southern belle who was left behind when her best friend Euphemia goes to live with her sister Sarah's family in Texas. (Georgia is named after two states, don't you know -- "Georgia and Virginia, I imagine." ;-)) She's secretly part Indian, but nobody's supposed to know that. She also has a cousin who's a slave, which makes things even more weird, but no one's really supposed to know that either.
I was surprised at how much I liked Angelina Jolie in this role. She makes an adorable Southern belle; I've been trying to imitate her accent for the past 42 hours. ;-) Georgia is really a nice girl, but she doesn't always act like it. She's the more delicate of the three women at the start, having been born and bred in civilized Georgia, but when she moves out to Texas with her doctor husband, she bears up to the trials and becomes a strong, capable manager of a cotton plantation.
Euphemia Ashby King (Annabeth Gish), known as 'Phemie', was my favorite character. Phemie comes to live with her sister Sarah when her father dies, and grows up learning to be tough like her sister and able to defend herself if need be. But Phemie's a whole lot sweeter than Sarah, and her tender side comes out more often. She loves horses, she cares about her friends, and she'll do what she's got to to protect her family. Yup, I loved Phemie.
Since the whole movie is basically about how women endured the trials of the Western frontier, there are parts of the movie that are a leeetle feministic, but not so much that it really bothered me. On the whole, I really, really like these characters. They're strong women, and I admire them. Yes, even you, Sarah.
This story is just full of intensity, drama, tension, FEELS. Aahhhh. One minute they're crossing the Brazos on a raft, the next they're this close to being scalped by Comanches, and then hey, look, now we're petitioning for women to get the vote in Texas. There's so MUCH here. It's a well-told story, no doubt about that. I kept thinking, while watching this, how much Dr. Michaela Quinn would like these ladies. I think they'd really hit it off.
The characters are also quotable. Now, I think that's awfully important. I put a lot of stock in good dialogue in a movie. Here's some of my favorite quotes:
"I'll go to the school, Sarah. I forgive you for slapping me. I don't know if I ever told you this, but I'm not sorry I came to Texas." ~Euphemia
"Whoever said you're safe when you're not on the battlefield sure as h*** wasn't a woman." ~Sarah
"I am named after two states." ~Georgia
"Georgia and Virginia, I imagine." ~Peter Wood
"I have been thinking about what you said, how you thought I was the prettiest girl in Francisville, if not Georgia and the entire South. If you know every girl in the entire South, I would be a fool to trust you, now wouldn't I?" ~Georgia
"I apologize for dying so young." ~Georgia
"You see? I have given him my horse!" ~Euphemia (Ohhhhh the FEELS in this scene!!!!)
"Now, I don't want to be a man. I like being a woman." ~Georgia
True Women is rated PG-13. There's a smattering of language -- nothing too foul, pretty much what you'd expect from a period drama like this. There's also a few little bedroom scenes; they're short and not graphic, but you'll probably want to turn your head. There's an attempted rape which is none too pretty, and one part where the woman is drawing the man into a trap by...um...tempting him. (It's actually a really epic scene, so I don't recommend skipping it!) The worst part, I'd say, is the violence. It's not heavy throughout, but there is some brutality (mostly concerning the Indians) which is pretty scary. So this is not a movie for children, definitely.
Of course I MUST mention the soundtrack. :-) Bruce Broughton is one of my favorite film composers; he's done so many amazing scores, like Silverado, Tombstone, and The Blue and the Gray. So I always expect greatness from him, and I haven't been disappointed yet! The music lends so much to this movie, giving it that old-timey, widespread, epic feel. In fact, I may or may not have just ordered the soundtrack within two hours of finishing the movie. *ducks head*
It's a good movie, folks. It made me laugh and it made me cry, and it gave me that deep-down, warm-fuzzy feeling of a story well told.
Eupehmia: "Did we really do anything, Sarah?"
Sarah: "We endured. That's enough, sweetie."