How to Make an American Quilt
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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