Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment (1983)
  • Time: 132 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: James L. Brooks
  • Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels


Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma’s marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy. Aurora’s interludes with Garrett Breedlove, retired astronaut and next door neighbor are quite striking. In the end, different people show their love in very different ways.

One comment

  • With three knockout performances and a heart wrenching story, there is enough substance here to get it through a few short improbabilities and clich├ęs. With its sledgehammer ending, all the humor and playful romancing ends up being a set-up for the final act, making it that much more powerful. Director James Brooks shows a feel for real interactions in a very normal sense, and this is his first of only five completed films (another being As Good As It Gets, which has a couple echoes to this one). It isn’t a brilliant or original film at all, but it’s sincere, and seems to touch on themes of the times (and ours) in a meaningful way.

    So who are the three? Well, easily Debra Winger steals the show for warmth and life, and she is, in a way, the one pure spirit throughout. Shirley MacLaine has a more idiosyncratic role, and she pours herself into it with amazing clarity and conviction. And then, in a slightly smaller role but equally important, Jack Nicholson manages his best, charming, audacious, slightly selfish type. The interwoven interactions between these, and a few others, is the core of the film.

    The movie is more important for its events than for how it’s made, but it’s a solid piece in all. And notable, and noticeable, is the editing by the fabulous Richard Marks, for which he won an Oscar nomination.

    And life happens, without too much sweetener.

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