Edge [1997]

As its title might suggest, this movie based on Carrie Fisher's Hollywood struggle works better as a snapshot than as a complete film. Meryl Streep plays Suzanne Vale, a successful actress who is lost in her addictions. Her episodes are never as bombastic as Clean and Sober or other antidrug movies of the 1990s, however. Vale's a more lovable person, and as with all lovable people in Hollywood, other Hollywood people care for her: an understanding director (Gene Hackman), a philandering boyfriend (Dennis Quaid), and a bemused doctor (Richard Dreyfuss). But if you are going to talk about Fisher, you are going to mention her mom, Debbie Reynolds. And here Vale's mom is the die-hard Doris Mann, played with appropriate virtuosity by Shirley MacLaine. The love-hate mother-daughter relationship takes over the film in an entertaining way, with Fisher's sharp comic writing coming into play. You nearly forgive Vale's troubles for having to live under a hurricane like Mann (who goes into her nightclub act at the drop of a hat). The film's sweetest pleasure is seeing Streep loose and modern, nary a drab outfit or an accent in sight. Streep and director Mike Nichols make a risky--and rewarding--finale (fueled by the Oscar-nominated "I'm Checking Out" by Shel Silverstein) work effortlessly. --Doug Thomas

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