Blu-ray Review: Postcards from the Edge

To much of the world, Carie Fisher seemed to have it all. The daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she was cast as Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope at just 19. Despite her good fortune and success, Fisher’s life was tumultuous; marked by a battle with drug addiction and bipolar disorder. And though her extremely close relationship with her mother has been well documented, Carrie admitted to several years when things were rocky between the pair. Published in 1987, Postcards from the Edge, a fictionalized account of Fisher’s darker days that she later adapted herself for the 1990 film.

Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep) is an actress at a crossroads. Once a promising talent, drug addiction has derailed her career. After a pill overdose and a stint in rehab, Suzanne is ready to get back to work. Her agent informs her that the studio’s insurance policy will only cover her if she lives with a “responsible” adult. Someone has the bright idea that Suzanne’s mother would be ideal.

Doris Mann (Shirley MacLaine) is a diva of the first order. When she shows up at the rehab center to visit Suzanne, fully made up and dressed to the nines, it’s a Norma Desmond “I’m ready for my close-up,” moment. In Doris’ world, the cameras on all the time. Early on, the film makes it clear that Suzanne’s drug use us an attempt to escape her mother’s suffocating influence.

Mother and daughter clearly love each other, but drive each other nuts. Even as they butt heads at every turn, they’re more alike than either of them will ever admit. When Suzanne tries to tell her mother about the embarrassment of taking a drug test for her new film, the conversation is turned on its head by Doris’ anxiety over a routine checkup.  How did we end up talking about your death from my drug test?” Suzanne mutters under her breath. Doris’ personality is so big, it’s nearly impossible for her to consider the feelings of another person. As Doris points out, she hasn’t exactly been a bad mother. “How would you like to have Joan Crawford as a mother?” she screams at Suzanne. ”Or Lana Turner?” Replies Suzanne, ”Those are my options?

Every line is punctuated with the sarcastic aesthetic Carrie Fisher herself, delivered on countless late night shows. MacLaine and Streep are at their best. The two have a mother-daughter chemistry. Having been in Hollywood for more than thirty years when filming Postcards from the Edge MacLaine plays the part of ‘studio era star’ to the hilt, but with the kind of humanity and humor that allows her love for her daughter to peak through. Streep plays Suzanne with a defiant sweetness. She just wants to be a good, reliable person again. The story doesn’t praise or condemn anyone, and maintains a realistic tone throughout.

Aside from Streep and MacLaine, several familiar faces fill out key roles: Suzanne’s latest love interest (Dennis Quaid), her director (Gene Hackman), her doctor (Richard Dreyfuss) and on-set friend (Annette Bening). Also, look for cameos from Rob Reiner and comedian Gary Morton.

Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Mill Creek’s 1080p transfer, beset by several small issues, is best described as a crisper looking DVD. Grain is unevenly distributed, giving the image an occasionally snowy look. Black levels appear faded, and contrast is uneven. The palette is appropriate, but the colors aren’t particularly vivid. Facial features have a slightly pasty appearance. Some textures occasionally offer up detail.

Postcards from the Edge features an LPCM 2.0 soundtrack which impresses quite a bit more than the video. Spacing is quite good along the fronts, as is the music. While the mic itself is rather basic, and lacking any sonic fireworks, atmospheric effects come through pretty well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout. I noticed a couple of instances where the sync appears a bit off, but those were very brief.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Carrie Fisher: As only she can, Fisher discusses writing the screenplay, getting the film made, the shoot, her involvement in the film, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, the role drugs played in her life and career, etc. For Carrie Fisher fans, it’s worth picking up this disc just for the commentary. She’s both informative and funny.

Movie title: Postcards from the Edge (1990)

Director(s): Mike Nichols

Actor(s): Meryl Streep , Shirley MacLaine , Dennis Quaid,, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner

Genre: Comedy, Drama

  • Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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