Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Imitation of Life (1959, Douglas Sirk)

I may be underrating this, actually. This really is moving as all hell. I've read complaints that the Lana Turner stuff pales in comparison to the Juanita Moore/Susan Kohner subplot. But of COURSE it does, and I'm sure Sirk knew it, and this contrast- between the troubles of a working class black woman and her light-skinned daughter, and the relatively small worries of a well-to-do white mother and daughter- is what makes this movie work. Lora's dreams come true and her daughter Susie whines that she was never around; meanwhile Annie (ambition is a luxury she can't afford) and Sarah Jane aren't even speaking in the end. Yet Sirk never patronizes or belittles any of the characters' problems. And of course the direction is wicked awesome. Rating: ***1/2.

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