The Amati Girls

Four Pittsburgh-based sisters fight, cry, laugh and love in this modern-day melodrama whose greatest strength is performances by a bevy of veteran actresses. But their work is undermined by a clichéd screenplay that's heavy on the promotion of traditional values and light on psychological insight. Super-mom Grace (Mercedes Ruehl),...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Four Pittsburgh-based sisters fight, cry, laugh and love in this modern-day

melodrama whose greatest strength is performances by a bevy of veteran

actresses. But their work is undermined by a clichéd screenplay that's

heavy on the promotion of traditional values and light on psychological

insight. Super-mom Grace (Mercedes Ruehl), the eldest Amati girl, has three

children — two rowdy boys and a dancing daughter — and an

old-fashioned husband, Joe (Paul Sorvino), who expects to be waited on hand

and foot. The more assertive Christine (Sean Young) is separated from Paul

(Jamey Sheridan), her workaholic spouse of 14 years, and considering divorce;

their teen daughter is also an aspiring dancer. Flighty Denise (Dinah Manoff)

is juggling marriage-minded boyfriend Lawrence (Mark Harmon) and her

long-deferred dreams of being a professional singer. And deeply religious,

mentally challenged Dolores (Lily Knight) lives with their recently widowed

mother, Dolly (Cloris Leachman), and dreams of having a boyfriend. Dolly's two

sisters complete the clan: single, flamboyant Splendora (Lee Grant, Manoff's real-life mother) and homey Loretta (Edith Fields), whose husband, Frankie

(Joe Greco), adores her. The plot is driven by an upcoming ballet recital at

which fathers are expected to partner their budding ballerinas, but its main

concern is the sisters' marital problems, which are resolved in very

old-fashioned ways. It's not revealing anything you can't see coming from the

outset that Christine learns it's better to work at marriage than abandon it,

Denise realizes she should marry Lawrence, and Dolores finds a soulmate.

Actress-turned-writer/director Anne DeSalvo developed her screenplay at

Sundance, but it smacks of a certain kind of TV movie filled with pious

uplift, even as it makes token concessions to contemporary lifestyles. The

sissified ballet teacher gets to say something wise, Dolly questions her

faith, and it even looks as though Denise and Lawrence might be having

pre-marital sex. The film's distributor, Providence Entertainment, is a heavy

hitter in the world of Christian filmmaking.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Four Pittsburgh-based sisters fight, cry, laugh and love in this modern-day melodrama whose greatest strength is performances by a bevy of veteran actresses. But their work is undermined by a clichéd screenplay that's heavy on the promotio… (more)

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