An intense study of sibling rivalry set in the Seattle music world, Georgia excels at the expression of painfully unresolvable family conflicts. Performed to maximum effect by a host of top-flight actors, Ulu Grosbard’s strong character study is knit together by a tense subtext that underlies even the calmest moments.
Co-produced by star Jennifer Jason Leigh and her mother, Barbara Turner (who wrote the script for her daughter), and originally developed with Robert Altman as director, drama takes a pointed look at the inevitable strains in the relationship between sisters when one is a very together, happy and successful singer and the younger one is far less talented, emotionally immature and dependent on drugs and booze.
Leigh plays a rock ‘n’ roll urchin named Sadie, a punkette who returns home to Seattle after a stint with a blues singer (Jimmy Witherspoon). Sadie camps out briefly at the idyllic country farmhouse of her sister, Georgia (Mare Winningmam), a beloved folk-rock icon for whom popular acclaim is secondary to her husband (Ted Levine) and her kids.
Always a disruptive presence at her sister’s home, Sadie is somewhat reluctantly taken on as a singer in the working band of ex-b.f. Bobby (John Doe) and shortly has the good fortune to meet an unconditionally adoring fan, delivery boy Axel (Max Perlich), who installs himself as Sadie’s valet, maid, lover and one-man support team.
The film undisputably belongs to Leigh and Winningham. Leigh’s emotional investment in Sadie obviously is considerable, but she also spares her nothing, laying bare a lost soul. On the surface, Winningham has less to do histrionically, but her characterization emerges just as fully.