Dir: Christopher M Rowley. US.2006. 104mins.

A slushy salute to female friendship and the greatmysteries of life and death, Bonnevillehas the unmistakable feel of a TV-movie tearjerker. Filled with predictabledevelopments and heart-tugging revelations, it is bereft of surprises anddripping in syrupy sentiment. It has been a long while since an older femaledemographic had a film to make them laugh and cry in the manner of Steel Magnolias (1989) or Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) - but thisseems altogether too meek and mild to fit that bill.

Even with thepowerhouse cast of Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Joan Allen, Bonneville will struggle to make animpression at the box-office and the very American production seems unlikely totravel well.

Along with Meryl Streep and SigourneyWeaver, Jessica Lange is at the vanguard of a generation giving a lie to theindustry wisdom that actresses disappear from the Hollywoodradar once they reach 40. She lends graceful conviction to the role of Arvilla, a woman coming to terms with the death of herhusband. Respecting his wishes, she has had the body cremated and intends toscatter his ashes in the places that meant the most to them.

The absence of arecent will means that stepdaughter Francine (Christine Baranski)stands to inherit everything and insists that her father's ashes are returnedto the family home in California.Joined by loyal friends Margene (Kathy Bates) andCarol (Joan Allen), Arvilla sets off on a road tripfrom Pocatella, Idaho to Santa Barbara in a Bonneville convertible.

Conceived as afusion of Last Orders (2001) and Thelma And Louise(1992), Bonneville disappoints because it does absolutely everything that youwould expect. The uptight Mormon Carol learns to relax and live a little. SassyMargene has a secret to impart that makes the filmeven more maudlin and she also finds a little masculine company in the shape ofgentleman trucker Emmett (Tom Skerritt) - a Brad Pittfor seniors. Francine finds a way to accept her loss and face the future with alittle help from her friends.

Bonneville does unfold in some very picturesque settings thatare captured for maximum visual impact by cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball butthe story is hackneyed and film seems unable to arrive at a natural, compactending.

The three leadingladies lend professionalism and a sense of camaraderie to the proceedings withKathy Bates injecting some typical vim and sass in her now traditional role asthe life and soul of this party. Ultimately you still have to conclude: greatcar, shame about the film.

SenArt Films
Drop Of Water Productions

Cinetic Media

Bob Brown
R Michael Bergeron

Robert May
John Kilker

Daniel D Davis

Jeffrey Kimball

Anita Brandt-Burgoyne

Production design
Christopher DeMuri

Shie Rozow

Main cast
Jessica Lange
Kathy Bates
Joan Allen
Tom Skerritt
Christine Baranski