the fresh films reviews

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Terms of Endearment (1983)

Directed by:
James L. Brooks


Tid for ømhet

132 minutes

Produced by:
James L. Brooks
Written by:
James L. Brooks
Based on the novel by:
Larry McMurty

Cast includes:

Aurora Greenway Shirley MacLaine ½
Emma Horton Debra Winger ½
Garrett Breedlove Jack Nicholson
Vernon Dahlart Danny De Vito ½
Flap Horton Jeff Daniels ½
Sam Burns John Lithgow ½
Rosie Betty King -
Patsy Clark Lisa Hart Carroll ½
Teddy Huckleberry Fox
Melanie Megan Morris -
Tommy Horton Troy Bishop ½



Even though Terms of Endearment is a manipulative tear-jerker on par with The Champ or An Officer and a Gentleman, it's so schemingly well-made that it's almost impossible not to surrender to it. The basis for why the manipulation works is that the world James L. Brooks creates here is a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours. Remarkably, this was his directorial debut, after he had written and produced the fairly successful Burt Reynolds flick Starting Over a few years prior. Here Brooks utilizes Larry McMurty's story to perfection and wraps it an irresistibly blended atmosphere of humour and sincerity. The characters have a touch of movie quirkiness to them, but they still feel like real, complex people with a behaviour which admittedly is sometimes outrageous, but nevertheless authentic. You believe in these people, and you believe in the remarkable and eccentric mother/daughter relation at the heart of the story. Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger play combatively and fervidly off of each other and create two of the best female movie characters of the decade. They are both far more fascinating than they are sympathetic. And the same can of course be said of Jack Nicholson's Garrett Breedlove, the middle-aged womanizer next door. You root for these people not because they deserve better, but because you want them to find some sort of inner harmony in the midst of all the chaos. And because they are funny in a truly idiosyncratic way. Also with powerful supporting performances by Jeff Daniels and John Lithgow. James L. Brooks made a clean sweep with Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing at the 56th Academy Award for his efforts. MacLaine won Best Actress over Winger, and Nicholson took the Supporting Actor statuette in front of Lithgow.

Re-reviewed: Copyright © 03.10.2023 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright © 01.03.2000 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang