Luke Skywalker is not the only member of the Star Wars gang with parent issues. Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia, channeled hers into a novel that became another winning Mike Nichols domestic comedy, "Postcards From The Edge."
Fisher's "emotionally autobiographical" clever Hollywood-dream-factory send-up of a script gives MacLaine and Streep plenty of great lines that pop off the screen like bombs. "Instant gratification takes too long," Suzanne whines. "I know you don't take my dreams seriously, even when I predicted your kidney stones," crows Mom.
Meryl Streep, cast against type in a comedic role plays Suzanne Vale, an actress struggling with drug addiction and a difficult relationship with her alcoholic has-been singer/actress mother played by Shirley McClaine. The film starts with Vale, making a film, high as a kite and making a mess of her scenes, then she overdoses and is put into rehab.
Following her rehab stint, she is forced to live with her mother in order to be able to keep her job on a new film. Her mother tells her that she is making all the wrong career moves, stays up all night waiting for to come home from a date and generally otherwise makes her life very difficult. I won't give away anymore of the plot than that. Streep and McClaine are amazing here, and suprisingly, Streep can sing, very well. Also especially good is Gene Hackman in a small supporting role and a cameo by Rob Reiner.
"Postcards" is most effective when it focuses on the paradox of how these people perform so well in the limelight and so clumsily outside of it. "We're designed more for public than for private," is how Suzanne puts it at one point. Some comments here complain of too many musical numbers, but of course entertaining is what these women live for. Watching Suzanne watch her mother sing "I'm Still Here", realizing for an instant that a throwaway line in the song is really a cry of pain over Suzanne's way of life, and finally responding, silently but in a nakedly emotional way, communicates all you need to know about how much these two people love each other, beneath their banter and blame.
Such subtle touches allow Streep, MacLaine, and Nichols to keep the longer dialogues crisp and funny. You may have a hard time understanding the lives these people lead, but you will enjoy their company.