Crimes of the Heart is a character study of three sisters, each attempting to discover her own identity. They collectively deal with family problems and individual challenges. The bizarre yet believable characters in Henley’s Southern gothic comedy struggle to deal with despair, loneliness, and failure. Black humor enables the MaGrath sisters to find meaning and happiness in life, even if it is only momentary.
The sisters were abandoned by their father and then abandoned again when their mother hanged herself, along with her cat. The oldest sister, Lenny, has sacrificed her life to care for the grandfather who raised them. Her loneliness is deepened by her belief that she is undesirable because she cannot conceive. Meg, the totally self-centered middle sister, ran away to Hollywood but has since given up her dream of becoming a star. They are reunited in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, because the youngest sister, Babe, has shot her husband and is facing trial. The sisters confront their pasts in ways that enable them to redefine their own identities as stronger, independent women.
When their grandfather slips into a coma, Lenny finally realizes that she does not have to spend her life as a lonely spinster. Meg is invited out by the lover whom she abandoned in the devastation of Hurricane Camille, a metaphor for the disaster of the sisters’ past lives. When he does not beg her to run away with him, she realizes that she can love...
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