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Friday, April 20, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"In the Land of Women" has lots of talk, but nothing to say

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 2 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"In the Land of Women," with Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart, Meg Ryan, Olympia Dukakis, Makenzie Vega, Elena Anaya, Clark Gregg, JoBeth Williams. Written and directed by Jonathan Kasdan.

98 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, thematic elements and language.

Jonathan Kasdan's directorial debut "In the Land of Women" is about a 26-year-old struggling L.A. writer named Carter Webb (Adam Brody) who goes to suburban Michigan to visit his ailing grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) and becomes emotionally and romantically connected with a high-school girl (Kristen Stewart) and her mother (Meg Ryan), who has cancer. All of these women are troubled and in some way damaged; all of them are helped (if not healed) by Carter, who seems to have a gift for instant intimacy.

"In the Land of Women" is a pretty enough place to visit (particularly the design-mag interiors of Ryan's character's home, all precisely coordinated to match her eyes), but as a movie it appears to have nothing to say. (Perhaps its distributor has figured this out — if you watch the movie's misleading trailer, it seems to be a teen love story.) It's a drifty, talky movie; not much happens, except the actors struggling mightily to overcome their character's clichés. Dukakis gets the worst of it, as one of those sitcommy grandmas who cracks wise about sex in between bouts of dementia; likewise, little Makenzie Vega gets stuck playing a glib kid sister who's Wise Beyond Her Years.

Ryan, who hasn't played too many moms in her career, does some nice work here; carefully erasing her usual rom-com cuteness (though Kasdan can't resist giving her a perky scene involving some cookies) and giving a calm, quiet and essentially sad performance. She and the charmingly deadpan Brody are rather sweet together, but their scenes go nowhere. In this movie, the suburban streets are always wet, but it hardly ever rains. This may not have been an intentional metaphor, but it sums up the experience of watching "In the Land of Women" as well as anything.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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