How to Make an American Quilt - * * 1/2*

Mechanical drama about women and their relationships with men and each other. Winona Ryder plays a young woman on the verge of marriage who spends a summer away from her fiancee to compose her master’s thesis and reevaluate her life. She spends her time with her grandmother, Ellen Burstyn, and great aunt, Anne Bancroft, along with several other women who belong to a quilting circle. Each member of the circle has a story to tell, and, rather methodically, each story is told in turn. The general themes of the tales are sacrifice and forgiveness. For the most part, the performances are good; however, Winona Ryder’s tale serves primarily as a framework for the other stories and her many dilemmas (from cheating on her fiancee with a local swimmer, to struggling with her master’s thesis) seem purely superficial. Overall the film compares the imperfections of relationships to the multitude of panels in a quilt, stitched together with love to make a cohesive whole. But the repetitive succession of stories seem too much like the repetitive panels of quilts. You know the film can’t end until each woman tells her story…ultimately the quilt is too large and smothering.

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