Review: ‘Shy People’

Cosmopolitan writer Diana Sullivan (Jill Clayburgh) lives in splendid disharmony in New York with her teenage daughter Grace (Martha Plimpton). Clayburgh is totally in her element as a spoiled middle-age woman trying to cope with her too-hip daughter.

Cosmopolitan writer Diana Sullivan (Jill Clayburgh) lives in splendid disharmony in New York with her teenage daughter Grace (Martha Plimpton). Clayburgh is totally in her element as a spoiled middle-age woman trying to cope with her too-hip daughter.

They are soon out of their element, though, when they travel to Louisiana. It is not simply a case of invaders from civilization soiling a pure culture; story is deepened by the exploration of family ties.

What they find when they arrive is Ruth Sullivan (Barbara Hershey), the matriarch of a family of three sons, one of whom is kept in a cage and another retarded, plus a pregnant daughter (Mare Winningham).

Director Andrei Konchalovsky and cinematographer Chris Menges offer a slow and seductive descent into this world of alligators and primordial beauty.

Clayburgh gives one of her best performances and seems right at home with the ticks and self-centered mannerisms of a modern woman. Plimpton nearly steals the show with her mixture of girlish brashness and suggestive sexuality.

Shy People

Production

Cannon. Director Andrei Konchalovsky; Producer Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus; Screenplay Gerard Brach, Andrei Konchalovsky, Marjorie David; Camera Chris Menges; Editor Alain Jakubowicz; Music Tangerine Dream; Art Director Steve Marsh

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Jill Clayburgh Barbara Hershey Martha Plimpton Merritt Butrick John Philbin Don Swayze
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