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Mothers and daughters are everywhere in the film version of Susan Minot's novel about two women who hear their mom's deathbed murmurs about a long-lost love — and how she killed a man in her youth.

The mom on screen is Vanessa Redgrave, whose real-life daughter Natasha Richardson plays one of her daughters (the other is played by Toni Collette). And mom's best friend (Meryl Streep) is played in flashbacks by Streep's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, opposite Claire Danes playing a younger Redgrave.

Also on hand is Glenn Close as Wedding Momzilla — plus, for amour of one sort or another, Hugh Dancy and Patrick Wilson.

And all of this adds up to ... not very much. The script is so lamely melodramatic and overstated that no amount of stellar acting (and Streep and Redgrave are doing genuinely lovely work) can rescue it.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.