Postcards from the Edge, Carrie Fisher’s sardonic and snappy roman g a] clef about her own drug rehabilitation, is the perfect gift cassette for a friend in substance-abuse recovery — or, better yet, for one who needs to be. As Suzanne, an actress just out of rehab, Meryl Streep is so good you can almost taste the inside of her mouth when she wakes up from having her stomach pumped. Forced by a movie insurance company to live under the supervision of her alcoholic mother, Doris (Shirley MacLaine), an old-time MGM star, to guarantee her completing a grade-Z flick, Suzanne crawls into her worst nightmare: Doris is so much into control she’s wasted not working at Cape Canaveral. Vulnerable and very much in touch with her hormones, Suzanne gets trodden upon by a heel (Dennis Quaid) before rallying for a cure-all career change in music video. All in a mere couple of months.
Fisher’s knowing dialogue can go up like a cat’s back (Quaid: ”I have feelings for you.” Streep: ”How many? More than two?”), and Mike Nichols’ assured direction ushers scenes along as a nurse does a frail patient in detox. Yet nearly everyone except Suzanne is a caricature, and there are simply too many quick and easy resolutions. As a result, Postcards is much more entertaining than it is accurate — recovery as instant gratification. B