"The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"


"Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" is a southern tale of a mother and daughter's fight to understand one another. (Hollywood.com)
Based on the best-selling Rebecca Wells novel, "The Divine Secrets of Ya-Ya Sisterhood" is a southern tale of family life. It presents Sidda Lee Walker, an accomplished playwright whose play has finally hit Broadway. In an interview with Time magazine Sidda reveals her troubled childhood growing up in Louisiana.

Based on the best-selling Rebecca Wells novel, "The Divine Secrets of Ya-Ya Sisterhood" is a southern tale of family life. It presents Sidda Lee Walker, an accomplished playwright whose play has finally hit Broadway. In an interview with Time magazine Sidda reveals her troubled childhood growing up in Louisiana. 

Vivi, Sidda's mother, reads of her daughter's revelation in the magazine and goes into what some Southerners would call a "hissy" fit.

Vivi's girlfriends, Teensy, Caro and Necie—Ya-Ya Sisterhood—decide to do an intervention with Sidda and show her the real Vivi.

They do this is by sharing their secret lives as the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The film proceeds through flashbacks revealing Vivi's life growing up. We learn that Vivi's own childhood included a domineering mother who thought poorly of her child and forever mourned the loss of her one true love during World War II. 

All of this is supposed to help Sidda rethink her views of her mother and recognize her as being wounded as well.

As a man, I found it hard to appreciate much of what "Ya-Ya" is about. While at the theatre, a woman two rows away would wave her hands in the air, like in a revival meeting, when something was said that she identified with.

Yet there is something much deeper here.

John Claypool points to Alice Miller's work when he speaks of the fact that most of us are prisoners of our childhood. We are bound up in the prison of our past and those feelings of unrequited love and longing that our parents did not meet for us. 

"Ya-Ya" speaks to this and resonates with those who have such feelings.

It does meander as it tells its tale. At times is like that line from Shakespeare: "It is a tale filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing." 

For what it has to work with there is much that is lost. The flashbacks lack connection at times to the larger story. 

But the method of telling the tale does not override the reality of the subject matter. Feelings of abandonment by parents who were not ready to be parents are real.

The redemption at the end is good, but for many it is only a catharsis for the time spent in the theater, in the dark, with people who understand the jokes that seem to fly over your head.

Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, adult themes and mild sensuality

Director: Callie Khouri

Cast: Sidda; Sandra Bullock; Vivi: Ellen Burstyn; Teensy: Fionnula Flanagan; Shep: James Garner; Younger Vivi: Ashley Judd; Necie: Shirley Knight; Caro: Maggie Smith 

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