'Fried Tomatoes' downplays the gay aspect


"Fried Green Tomatoes," the feel-good sleeper starring Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, Kathy Bates and the Oscar-nominated Jessica Tandy (for her role as the flashbackee who gets the story in motion) only suggests what the book it is based on spelled out: Idgie (Ms. Masterson) and Ruth (Ms. Parker) are lovers.

In Fannie Flagg's 1987 novel, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," the two women -- who sling hash and raise a baby in a Depression-era diner in deepest Alabama -- are fast friends whose affection for one another blooms into a romance. In John Avnet's adaptation, co-scripted by Ms. Flagg, Mr. Avnet and an uncredited Carol Sobieski, that element is decidedly downplayed.

"I had no interest in going into the bedroom," the first-time director told Entertainment Weekly. "It's not a political film at all," Ms. Flagg told the magazine. "It's about the possibilities of people being sweet and loving each other."

Despite criticism from some in the gay community that "Tomatoes" sidesteps the issue, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation nonetheless plans to honor the movie for its "lesbian content."


Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays homeless teen Luke Brower on ABC's "Growing Pains," gets the part of his life in "This Boy's Life," director Michael Caton-Jones' adaptation of the Tobias Wolff novel. Robert De Niro is the stern stepdad, Ellen Barkin the mom.

Title of the week: It's a tie. From Troma Pictures, there's "The Good, the Bad and the Subhumanoid."

And from Denys Arcand, the Quebec filmmaker ("Jesus of Montreal"), there's "Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love," his forthcoming project.

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