This well-intentioned but strangely cold tale concerns an emotionally repressed Southern belle (Julia Roberts) who separates from her husband (Dennis Quaid) after discovering he is an unabashed philanderer. Pressed by her dominating father (Robert Duvall) into reconciling with her spouse, Roberts's character chafes against so much male control over her destiny. Defended by a fiercely independent sister (a catchy performance by Kyra Sedgwick), the heroine develops the nerve to plot her own course in life while her mother (Gena Rowlands) finds the gumption to throw her own mate out of the house. The script by Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) is intelligent but hardly clear, and direction by Lasse Hallström (Once Around) can't keep Khouri's unfocused scenes and uncertain purpose from dissolving like sand castles in the rain. --Tom Keogh
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