In Her Shoes is well-rounded family drama (with many comedic elements) that offers more than the usual “chick flick.” Ostensibly about the relationship between two sisters, Rose and Maggie Feller, the film explores the entire family (past and present) and examines each throughline to a greater depth than lighter fare. With a requisite share of weepy and feel-good moments, In Her Shoes covers familiar genre territory with depth and aplomb.
Rose Feller is a mousey attorney who struggles to change herself to accommodate those around her (MC Approach of Be-er) whether it’s her hunky boyfriend co-worker, her obnoxious but needy younger sister, her cold stepmother, or her emotionally unavailable father. Her low self-esteem (MC Issue of Sense of Self) and interest in improving her life (MC Problem of Desire) drive her to work long hours and rely on her pool of co-workers as potential romantic material.
Maggie Feller, Rose’s younger sister, is a vivacious blonde bombshell that suffers from a surprising lack of morals due to her unabashed self-centeredness (IC Problem of Self Aware), a debilitating case of undiagnosed dyslexia (IC Symptom of Actuality), and an overabundance of sex appeal (IC Response of Perception).
After getting into trouble (IC Domain of Activity) one too many times (OS Concern of Past), Maggie is evicted from her room at her father and stepmother’s house and moves in with Rose (Story Driver of Action). The two sisters have completely different attitudes towards life (Relationship Story Domain of Fixed Attitudes). Rose finds fulfillment by buying shoes, beautiful shoes, because they always fit—but she never wears them. On the other foot, so to speak, Maggie thinks it’s a crime to keep them on the shelves and they must be worn for all to see. This is a classic Be-er / Do-er argument.
Rose tries to help Maggie get a job without success. Rose figures that a job will begin Maggie’s road to independence (MC Problem Solving Style of Linear/Logical). Maggie takes a trip to NYC for an MTV audition but fails when her dyslexia impairs her reading a teleprompter. Even her bubbly personality won’t get her the job if she can’t read properly. She leaves disheartened without understanding what is wrong with her (IC Concern of Understanding).
Meanwhile, Rose is hurt (MC Counterpoint of State of Being) when her relationship with a co-worker isn’t going as smoothly as she’d like. The co-worker brings flowers to Rose’s apartment while Rose is still at work. Taking advantage of the situation, Maggie charms him and they jump in the sack together.
As might be expected, Rose returns and catches them in the act. She throws them both out (Story Driver of Action, End of Relationship Story Throughline Act I).
Rose quits her job with the law firm and takes up dog walking (Story Driver of Action, End of MC Throughline Act I).
With the help of some letters Maggie discovered in her dad’s desk drawer, Maggie leaves for Florida (Story Driver of Action, End of IC Throughline Act I) to live with her newly discovered grandmother (Story Driver of Action, End of OS Throughline Act I).
In an unexpected story move, the Main Character and Influence Character physically separate at the end of the first act and do not reconnect until the last act (Relationship Story Inhibitor of Situation). A host of support characters work to flesh out the Main Character and Influence Character throughlines, a task normally limited to the Main and Influence characters themselves. It appears that several substories pop into existence to help flesh out these throughlines. Specifically, there seems to be a substory with Maggie (MC) and her grandmother, Ella (IC). Rose’s relationship with Simon seems less like a substory than the exploration of the main character throughline, but it is possible their relationship strays beyond boundaries of the main story. For this analysis, however, I have focused solely on elements of the main story’s four throughlines.
MAIN CHARACTER THROUGHLINE
Rose’s personal journey concerns her growing independence and romance with Simon Stein. We see her trying to find a way to make her personal life gel with the other throughlines (MC Concern of Developing a Plan).
INFLUENCE CHARACTER THROUGHLINE
Maggie takes up residence with her grandmother, Ella. While there, she starts working (at Ella’s insistence). Maggie gets a job in a hospital where she befriends a patient. He identifies her dyslexia and helps her work to overcome its overt symptoms (IC Response of Perception). Ella helps Maggie get beyond her self-centeredness and begin to be aware of others around her (IC Solution of Aware).
RELATIONSHIP STORY THROUGHLINE
Though bits and pieces of the relationship throughline creep into the MC and IC throughlines, it isn’t until Rose receives a letter and plane ticket from Ella (Story Driver of Action) that the Relationship Story throughline picks up again. While reminiscing with Ella, Rose and Maggie describe one special day they had with their mother before she died (OS Concern of the Past). Though they recall the events the same, their recollection of its timing with their mother’s death is different (Relationship Story Concern of Memories). Rose tells Maggie that the great day was two days before their mother’s “accident” (Relationship Story Catalyst of Truth). Maggie realizes her mother’s accident was really suicide (Relationship Story Thematic Conflict of Falsehood v. Truth).
OVERALL STORY THROUGHLINE
The estrangement of the Ella Hirsch from the Feller family (OS Domain of Situation) grew from the death of Rose and Maggie’s mother years before (OS Concern of The Past). Their mother was unstable. Ella fought with Michael Feller (Ella’s son-in-law) over treatment. Should she stay on pills that made her feel “fuzzy” or not take them and risk hurting herself (OS Problem of Self Aware). The subsequent suicide (OS Conflict of Destiny v. Fate) broke the family apart.
Maggie and Rose reconnect in Florida. Rose’s gets married with all her family together and buries the past once and for all (Story Outcome of Success). Rose learns to enjoy her shoes (MC Growth of Start) but remains protector of her younger sister whether she likes it or not (MC Resolve of Steadfast). On the other hand, Maggie learns to think about others and gives Rose a beautiful wedding dress paid from Maggie’s earnings as a senior citizen fashion consultant (IC Resolve of Change). Rose is thrilled to have her sister back in her life (Story Judgment of Good).