Ah, yet another tale of life in the South. And what would
it be without four aging Louisiana goddesses, dysfunction,
redemption and a splash of
whiskey? Nothing less than the Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya
Set mostly in small-town Cajun Louisiana between the 1930s
and the present, the film is a tall tale of friendship and
loyalty among a group of four childhood friends who in their
youth initiate themselves into the playfully mystic YaYa
Sisterhood. Now in their twilight years, the three Ya
YasTeensy, Necie, and Caro, played by Flanagan, Knight,
and Smith respectivelyconspire to aid their ailing
Ya Ya, Vivi (Burstyn), whos about to lose
her daughter Sidda (Bullock) as a result of their inability
to reconcile their difficult past.
The story begins when Sidda, a young, successful playwright,
reveals more than she should during an interview with Time
magazine. Having aired the familys dirty laundry in
Americas most public of venues sends Vivi into hysterics
as yet unseen by the modern world. After one nasty phone call
and several micro-volcanic acts of emotional vandalism, it
seems that reconciliation may be at best impossible. Then
come the YaYas, Teensy, Necie, and Caro, with lilting,
Jim Beam accents to charm and mend old wounds and new between
Sidda, Vivi, and anyone who happened to fall in between.
As screenwriter and director, Khouri (Thelma And
Louise) delivers the plot in flashbacks narrated by the
Ya- Yas, each one revealing the history of the bittersweet
relationship between Vivi and Sidda that so desperately needs
repair. Ashley Judd is remarkable as the tortured,
Young Vivi. She gracefully navigates her character through
the complexities brought about by intermingling tides of frustration
and grief, maternal love and the need for escape from the
quotidian melancholy of a dissatisfied, small- town housewife.
I felt particularly comfortable with the strung-together
witticisms that exist as dialogue, drawn to prominence with
the YaYas delicious leanings toward vulgarity.
Who can resist a group of smart-mouthed, Southern gentlewomen
who lovingly threaten well-intentioned ass-beatings when any
one of them suffers from ego expansion?
The strength of this film is its simplicity. It gets to the
point as quickly and as humorously as possible, successfully
walking the line between comedy and melodrama. The cast, an
ensemble of renowned international actors, is another forte
in this film. McFayden and Bullock compliment each
other well, although Bullock seems upstaged by the rest of
the cast. She is trés lovable nonetheless.
If you appreciate a heart-warming, feel-good flick, this
enticing mix of personal tragedy, humor, and redemption will
be difficult to resist. The gamut of human emotion appears
in Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Maria G. Rios