Director: Kevin Bacon
Screenwriters: Anne Meredith
- 1996 Sundance Film Festival
Chase Phillips (Helen Mirren) feels different. But then, she never quite fit in with the country club set who were supposed to be her peers. After she suffers a nervous breakdown, her husband Richard (Beau Bridges) has her committed to a mental institution for several months. When she returns home to their summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard, she discovers Richard has hired a young mother’s helper, Elizabeth (played by Kyra Sedgwick), to care for their two children. Chase doesn’t want her help and spends much of her time chastising Elizabeth.
It isn’t until Richard returns to work, leaving the two women together, that Chase and Elizabeth begin to develop a relationship neither has anticipated. There is a vacillation in Elizabeth, which is exposed as Chase intimidates her and which lasts until she can prove she is able to stand up for herself. It is no accident that Elizabeth acts this way, as we discover when we learn of her own personal battles. Losing Chase is a moving, emotionally powerful drama about a woman’s refusal to conform to social norms she never accepted.
The film centers around the two female characters, who use each other’s strengths to explore their own potential. Although Chase isn’t well, she is not weak. In contrast, Elizabeth is more vulnerable than she thinks she is. The film derives much of its power from each woman facing her personal situation. Helen Mirren gives a commanding performance, never asking for pity. Kevin Bacon, debuting as a director, allows his actors enough space to develop their scenes while retaining the film’s focus. The result is a poignant, evocative story about having the courage to change one’s destiny.