American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Something to Talk About" came along just in time for Julia Roberts, reminding us of what was so special about her in "Pretty Woman," and what was not quite captured in the movies she made after that. It's made out of scenes that put her through her paces - material that shows her as sweet, wronged, coping, angry, shocking, scandalous, forgiving, conniving, competent, cheating, mothering, rebelling, profane and heroic. Any actress reading this screenplay would have to be shedding tears of joy by halfway through.
That isn't to say the screenplay, and the movie made from it, are not worthy. They are: This is an intelligent, quirky human story that finds room not only for the remarkable expanse of Julia Roberts' character but also for several other well-developed characters, not least the two key men in her life, and even a patient lover, whose patience is put to a much more severe test than his loving.
Roberts plays Grace King Bichon, daughter of the wealthy horseman Wyly King (Robert Duvall), and wife of the philandering Eddie Bichon (Dennis Quaid), of whom Grace's sister, Emma Rae, observes, "You married a guy whose nickname in college was Hound Dog. What did you expect was going to happen?" Emma Rae, played by Kyra Sedgwick in a scene-stealing performance, gets one of the movie's biggest laughs with a knee to Eddie's groin: not usually a very funny move, but she handles it with perfect timing and a certain elan.
When Grace discovers Eddie has been cheating on her, she leaves home and spends much time hanging out with Emma Rae, whose analysis of men and how they should be treated owes a great deal to having been raised on a horse farm.