How to Make an American Quilt [1995]

Based on the bestseller by Whitney Otto, this film seemed to miss all the poetry and the ephemeral charms of the wispy novel by trying to make a concrete movie out of it. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse (who made a similar hash out of A Thousand Acres), the film centers on Winona Ryder, who is debating her impending marriage and decides to make up her mind while spending the summer with her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn). This leads to a variety of encounters with Grandma and her sewing circle (which includes Anne Bancroft, Kate Nelligan, and Maya Angelou, among others), who reminisce about men, love, and marriage. It's put together piecemeal, like a quilt, but the parts add up to a fragmented, unsatisfying whole, despite some solid acting. --Marshall Fine

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