A good story to sink your teeth into

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By Kelly Dolejsi

When “Fried Green Tomatoes” came out in 1991, every woman in America loved it. It was immediately heralded as the ultimate “chick flick,” and no wonder. It has four strong female leads.

It focuses on women’s stories and women’s problems. It features a really lovely man, who dies, and an absolutely terrible man, who also dies. Men didn’t like the film much at all.

Now, 19 years have passed since its release and it’s still as relevant to women’s lives and poignant as ever. Even in 119 years, audiences will connect with its over-arching themes that friendships between women can change lives and that our own stories are powerfully affected by the stories of those who lived before us.

As “Fried Green Tomatoes” opens, Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates), a sad woman in a deflated marriage, meets the vivacious Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy) in a nursing home. Like many older individuals living in care facilities, Ninny needs someone to talk to, someone to tell her stories to. At the same time, Evelyn needs a story. Her own has stopped making sense to her – has stopped being interesting to her – and she welcomes the distraction.  

Ninny’s stories are so good that Evelyn keeps coming back, no longer to visit her husband’s unfriendly relative, but just to see Ninny. Eventually, motivated by the friendship and the details of Ninny’s stories, Evelyn stops trying to be a better wife and acknowledges that both she and her husband need to change – and she can only make herself happy.

Essentially, Ninny’s narrative becomes part of Evelyn’s, and alters Evelyn’s entire course.

Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson play Ruth Jamison and Idgie Threadgoode, the two protagonists in Ninny’s tales. The women go through heartbreak, violence, birth, entrepreneurship, murder and terminal illness together, and it is their enduring friendship that so inspires Evelyn.

It’s their love – and stories of love are always needed, by every generation, to remind us that life is not just difficult. We have the capacity to make life beautiful for ourselves and those with whom we we share it.

Mesa Public Library will present “Fried Green Tomatoes” as part of this season’s food-themed Free Film Series at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room theater.

Next up in the series will be “Big Night” on Feb. 4 and “Diner” on March 4.

The series is made possible by Friends of the Library, and is co-sponsored by the Los Alamos Arts Council.

For more information, call 662-8240 or visit www.losalamosnm.us/library.

Kelly Dolejsi is a member of the Los Alamos Arts Council.