Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (film)

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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCallie Khouri
Produced byBonnie Bruckheimer
Hunt Lowry
Bette Midler
Screenplay byCallie Khouri
Story byMark Andrus
Based onnovel of the same name & Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
StarringSandra Bullock
Ellen Burstyn
Fionnula Flanagan
James Garner
Ashley Judd
Shirley Knight
Angus Macfadyen
Maggie Smith
Music byT-Bone Burnett
David Mansfield
CinematographyJohn Bailey
Edited byAndrew Marcus
Gaylord Films
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 7, 2002 (2002-06-07)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$27 million
Box office$73.8 million

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a 2002 American comedy-drama film starring an ensemble cast headed by Sandra Bullock, co-written and directed by Callie Khouri. It is based on Rebecca Wells' novel of the same name and its prequel collection of short stories, Little Altars Everywhere.


In 1937 Louisiana, four little girls in the woods at night take a blood oath of loyalty to one another, led by Vivi Abbott, who dubs the group the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood."

In 1990s New York City, Vivi's eldest daughter, playwright Siddalee "Sidda" Walker, gives an interview with a reporter from Time, mentioning her unhappy childhood as a major source of inspiration for her work. The reporter sensationalizes Sidda's complaint, implying abuse and deep, dark family secrets. The article upsets Vivi, who calls Sidda and angrily declares that she is dead to her. Vivi cuts Sidda from her will, and Sidda disinvites Vivi from her upcoming wedding.

Still friends despite the years, the other Ya-Ya Sisters, Caro Benett, Teensy Whitman, and Necie Kelleher, decide to take the matter into their own hands. They kidnap Sidda in New York and take her back to Louisiana, hoping to show her how Vivi's troubled past has caused her present issues, including her fight with Sidda.

As the Sisters show Sidda Vivi's scrapbook, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, a series of flashbacks depicts Vivi's turbulent history from her childhood to Sidda's. Vivi's problems begin as a child when she witnessed racism at Teensy's aunt and uncle's house, a bitter and jealous mother Buggy Abbott who falsely accuses of her of incest with her father Taylor Abbott, and the loss of the love of her life Jack Whitman the older brother of Teensy who is killed in an airplane crash in World War II. Sidda is unmoved in her opinion of Vivi as self-centered and helpless, and is so upset she tells her fiancé she wants to postpone their wedding. It is revealed that the main source of conflict in Sidda and Vivi's relationship is an incident where Vivi had a nervous breakdown and brutally beat Sidda and her siblings. Sidda did not know that after this incident, Vivi took an overdose of the antidepressant Dexamyl and had to be hospitalized.

With this revalation, Sidda finally understands her mother's suffering. Vivi and Sidda reconcile, and Sidda decides that she wants to marry her fiancé in Louisiana. Vivi and the Sisters induct Sidda into the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.



Box office[edit]

Divine Secrets grossed a domestic total of $69,599,016 and $4,240,224 outside the States, totaling $73,839,240 worldwide.[1] The film opened at #2 the weekend of its release with $16,167,412 behind The Sum of All Fears's second weekend.[2]

Critical response[edit]

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood received a mixed response from film critics. The film holds a 44% "Rotten" rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus, "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is more melodramatic than emotionally truthful, and uneven in its mixture of time periods, actresses, laughter and tears."[3]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film only one-and-a-half out of four stars, writing, "The Ya-Ya Sisterhood is rubber-stamped from the same mold that has produced an inexhaustible supply of fictional Southern belles who drink too much, talk too much, think about themselves too much, try too hard to be the most unforgettable character you've ever met, and are, in general, insufferable." He added, "There is not a character in the movie with a shred of plausibility, not an event that is believable, not a confrontation that is not staged, not a moment that is not false."[4] Todd McCarthy of Variety similarly remarked, "While there are pleasures to be had from watching so many grand actresses strut their stuff, the fact is that the overriding preoccupation here rests with surface impressions rather than psychological probity."[5]

Conversely, Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a more positive review, describing it as "resolutely for and about women" and observing, "For all its failed connections, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is nurturing, in a gauzy, dithering way."[6] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times also praised the film, saying, "This is a work of excess and passion, an untidy sprawl of a motion picture that is sometimes ragged, occasionally uncertain, but--and this is what's important--always warm, accessible and rich in emotional life."[7]


  1. ^ "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  2. ^ June 7-9, 2002 Weekend
  3. ^ "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 7, 2002). "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 9, 2002). "Review: 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood'". Variety. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Holden, Stephen (June 7, 2002). "FILM REVIEW; Girlhood Chums, Rallying Round". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  7. ^ Turan, Kenneth (June 7, 2002). "Forever Ya-Yas: In a heartfelt film adaptation, four friends cherish their lifelong sisterhood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 12, 2016.

External links[edit]