Heart wrenching. Bittersweet. Heartwarming. Nostalgic.
I watched the movie for the first time last week, and I asked myself, why hasn’t anyone recommended this movie before? Why haven’t I ever come across it before? After a long long time, I have watched a really good story. I literally cried (might be a moot point considering I cry at everything and anything), like the whole watery stuff dropping down from my cheeks thing. I couldn’t stop myself.
This movie was made back in 1989, when Julia Roberts was at a tender age of 21. She was nominated for an academy award for her remarkable performance in the movie. With the likes of other actors, like Sally field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and others, it was a power dream team.
The story revolves around six women in the southern town of Louisiana, as they deal with their day to day family lives, and how they help one another cope in times of need.
Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) owns a home based beauty salon, where all the women of the town gather to get their grooming done, and where they get their doses of gossip. She hires shy and awkward Annelle (Daryl Hannah) – whose husband ran away- to work for her. M’Lynn (Sally Field) is a homemaker who marries off her daughter Shelby (Julia Roberts). Clairee Belcher (Olympia Dukakis), plays the former mayor’s cheerful widow who is ever cheerful to everyone. In contrast, there is ever grumpy and sarcastic Louisa “Ouiser” (Shirley MacLaine) who is of course the rich widower who is bitter about life.
As the story progresses, we come to find out that Shelby has type 1 diabetes, and it is revealed that due to this medical condition the doctors have advised her against bearing children. When she’d heard this, she had asked her fiancé to put off the wedding so that he would not be deprived of children, but her soon-to-be-husband reassures her and promises that they had nothing to worry about, they always had an option to adopt a child.
The wedding takes place, and at the wedding Annelle meets her to-be husband Sammy, who was bartending at Shelby’s wedding and the two hit it off. Meanwhile, Truvy has trouble trying to get her husband to spend more time with her.
As time goes by, Shelby tells her mom that she’s pregnant. Her mother, not so happy with the news, got very upset at Shelby and her husband (Jackson) for being ignorant and refusing to follow the doctors’ orders. Shelby tried to explain to her mom, that she really wanted to have a child especially after they found out that it was impossible to adopt a child due to her medical condition. She tries to make M’Lynn understand that she wanted to do this, and that even if she had little to live to enjoy the moment of motherhood, it was far better for her than not having the baby at all.
During Christmas holidays, Shelby and Jackson announce the pregnancy and M’lynn is still not thrilled with their decision, knowing it was too risky for her daughter. The women encourage her to focus on the joy and how happy her daughter was.
A while later, Shelby has a baby boy without any complications, but later comes to find out that she had developed a kidney failure, and required regular dialysis. After her child’s first birthday her mother offers her kidney, and they have a successful transplant. All seems fine and life goes on regularly, but after a few months, Shelby finds complications in doing menial tasks like carrying her baby and while working. She is one day found unconscious – by her husband – at home, and is rushed to the hospital. She stays comatose, and the doctors determine that Shelby’s has no hope to wake up. The family jointly decide to remove her life support and let her go.
At the funeral, M’lynn has a break down and the other women stick by her side to comfort her. The baby boy would now be raised by his grandparents.
Annelle, who was now married to Sammy is pregnant. She tells M’lynn that she and her husband have decided, if they ever had a daughter, they would like to call her Shelby, since it was at her wedding that they met and fell in love. M’lynn is touched and approves.
Annelle then goes into labor after a couple of months, and is rushed to the hospital; symbolizing the beginning of another life.
The name Steel Magnolias, suggests that the women can be both as delicate as the magnolia flower, and as tough as steel.
I apologize for the spoilers, but if you have not watched it, then please do.