How To Make An American Quilt

1995

Comedy / Drama

8
IMDb Rating 6.2

Synopsis


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116 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by day-of-drama

The thing with American Quilt, which you will especially notice if youhavealready read the book, is that it has a lot of contents to deal with intheranges of a feature film. But Jocelyn Moorehouse obviously wanted to packall the magic of the small stories of the women into this film, she wantedan entire quilt, full of bits and parts. It is only when understandingthisthat one can fully appreciate this wonderful piece. Fynn, escaping herpartner and the life (marriage) probably unfolding before her, stays withher grandmother and -aunt for the summer. The serious young eccentric, aworried, messed-up hippie girl, confronts her future, her past and herpresent (dealing with gorgeous Johnathon Schaech chasing her with smilesandstrawberries), when she dives into the life- and love stories told to herbythe women in her grandmother´s quilting circle. The rest is magic. See thetorture of love, the journeys of women and the revelations of grief andnewbeginnings, see what they hold dear, what will always stay with them, andlearn what Fynn eventually comes to terms with: That life is not aboutperfection, it´s about balance, about putting the small things together,just like a quilt. So, okay, mechanically, Moorhouse really doesn´t haveenough time for subtlety, and some characters and developments literallyjust fly by without any diving in. This will lead people to saying it´ssuperficial, but it´s not: It´s a journey, like looking out of a carwindowin another country: Just peeks. Bits. Parts. Parts of a quilt the movieleaves you to put together. If you do, like I did, it´s so moving andinspiring. Warm. The music of THE one-and-only Thomas Newman, thebeautifulWinona Ryder, the charismatic ladies, the land, full of secrets and peace.This is what makes it special. Fast, but special. And the final highpoint,aliteral "storm" that blows everything apart yet puts everything together,isa cinematic masterpiece, proof of heartfelt, imaginative work of both thewriter and the director. They´re actually dreaming an ending together -justtake this lovely movie in and stop bickering about reality. If you askme.

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Reviewed by cailean

A very moving, beautifully-crafted film. As I have not read the book, I amunable to compare the two. But the movie is enough: the acting iswonderful, although we get only snippets of each actress/actor. Themessage is wonderful, and the soundtrack is equally touching. I wouldrecommend this to anyone in love, or making a decision about love.Inspiration is abundant in this film about a young woman about to getmarried and in the process of building a house with her fiance. As she takesthe summer away from him to write a thesis and stay with her Grandmother andGreat Aunt, she finds them in the middle of making a quilt for her wedding.She also finds a very attractive young man, tempting her to cheat. Whatfollows are stories told by and about each of the women in the quiltingcircle. The young women discovers that love is not perfect, and that youmust take advantage of what you have, and that there is beauty in the known.<br><br>

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Reviewed by Jsnowd 5/10

I have spent many pleasant hours mocking &quot;How To Make An American Quilt&quot; tofriends, but at this moment I want to play fair. I'm sure that there aremany things to like about this movie and that somehow they escaped mynotice. For me it was never more than a series of plot devices stitchedtogether (ha ha) to form an unsatisfying story.<br><br>Winona Ryder is always a pleasure to watch. I've liked her better in moreirreverent titles like &quot;Beetlejuice&quot; or &quot;Heathers&quot;. Still, she wearsearnestness well, and manages to make bearable the Poloniusesque quiltspeech at end of the picture (see the quotes section).<br><br>The supporting players should be every bit as watchable (with severalcenturies of acting experience among them, they ought to be). I wish I'dbeen allowed to watch them act. Their function was to sit in front of thecamera quilting and say a few words of introduction before theflashback--as if they were hosts of a documentary.<br><br>I want to pause for a moment over Maya Angelou's casting. It's always atricky thing introducing a famous person from another discipline as anactor. I call it the &quot;Hey, you're Kareem Abdul-Jabbar&quot; problem (based onthe scene from _Airplane_ where a kid recognizes the basketball player inthe co-pilot's seat. The joke is in how much time he spends denying it).Maya Angelou has screen presence, but does nothing to dispel the problem.My dominant experience watching her was, &quot;Wow, they got Maya Angelou, worldfamous poet!&quot; Maybe this was the idea. Maybe the filmmakers felt herfamous presence would, in itself, add depth to the proceedings, so whymuddyit with anything as messy as an interesting character? Her appearance wasless acting than promotion. Maya Angelou wouldn't appear in a dog, wouldshe?<br><br>Well...<br><br>The plot reminds me of a line Robin Williams had about alcoholics, &quot;Yourealize you're and alcoholic when you repeat yourself. You realize you'rean alcoholic when you repeat yourself. You realize, oh dammit.&quot; Eachwoman's story follows a similar pattern. Girl meets boy, sleeps with boy,marries boy, boy leaves, boy comes back--each time unconvincingly (I wonderhow far any guy has ever gotten with the opening line &quot;You swim like amermaid&quot;). The Alfre Woodard story is the only variation, and as a result,the only interesting one among them.<br><br>And of course Winona Ryder's Finn has a similar problem. Does she marryDermott Mulrooney or does she go off with the local stud muffin. I callhimthe local stud muffin because that's all he is. The actor who played himdidn't convince me that there was anything under the perfectI-don't-have-to-work-out abs that would compel her to do more than roll inthe field with him. He wasn't a character so much a plot device meant toset up an obvious choice. Handsome rogue or dependable architecht? Giventhe way the flashbacks ran, take a guess.<br><br>There are more scenes to pummel here. There's the thesis blowing away inthe wind (she's the only grad student I've ever seen with no notes, nopaperweight, and, since she was using a typewriter, no carbons), andthere'sher random meeting with the Stud Muffin (who just happened to be hangingoutin the groves with a picnic basket and a blanket for her. I guess this wasset before the advent of stalking laws), but it would take too long to mockthem all. The real trouble with the movie is that it was so earnest, sodesperate to convince the audience of its poetic depths, that it wound upshallow, unsatisfying, unconvincing and unintentionallyfunny.<br><br>Or, to put it another way--never have so many, who were so talented, workedon something so ordinary.

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