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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (film)

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Title: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (film)  
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Subject: Mark Andrus, Angus Macfadyen, James Garner, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood film.jpg, Kiersten Warren
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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (film)

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Callie Khouri
Produced by Bonnie Bruckheimer
Hunt Lowry
Bette Midler
Screenplay by Mark Andrus (Adaptation)
Callie Khouri
Story by Rebecca Wells (Novel)
Starring Ellen Burstyn
Sandra Bullock
Ashley Judd
Fionnula Flanagan
James Garner
Maggie Smith
Shirley Knight
Music by T-Bone Burnett
David Mansfield
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Andrew Marcus
Gaylord Films
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • June 7, 2002 (2002-06-07)
Running time
116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $27 million
Box office $73,839,240

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


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Technical 3
  • Reception 4
  • Box office 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The film opens in 1937 Louisiana with four little girls out in the woods at night, each wearing a home-made headdress. The leader, Viviane Abbott, initiates them into a secret order she dubs the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood," which they seal by cutting their palms and taking a blood oath of undying loyalty.

The film then moves to New York City in the 1990s, where Viviane's eldest daughter, playwright Siddalee Walker (Sandra Bullock), while overseeing production of her newest release, 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.

Vivi (Ellen Burstyn) reads the article and becomes extremely upset. She calls Sidda, but instead of speaking can only bang the phone on the table while crying that she is dead to her. Sidda, equally frustrated by her mother's behavior, also bangs her phone against the counter after Vivi has hung up on her. Much to the frustration of her fiancé, Connor McGill (Angus Macfadyen), Sidda takes her mother's behavior as a declaration of all-out war. Vivi takes down all the pictures of Sidda in her house, cuts her face out of family pictures, and mails the defaced pictures to Sidda, along with a copy of her will with Sidda's name marked out. Sidda in turn sends Vivi a newly printed wedding invitation with the time and place cut out, plus torn-up tickets to her play.

When the Ya-Ya Sisters learn of Vivi's war, they decide to take matters into their own hands to resolve it. Led by Caroline Eliza "Caro" Benett (Maggie Smith), Aimee Malissa "Teensy" Whitman (Fionnula Flanagan), and Denise Rose "Necie" Kelleher (Shirley Knight) visit Sidda in New York, then drug her, kidnap her, and take her back to Louisiana. There they show her a scrapbook album her mother has kept, titled Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which they believe they must reveal to Sidda.

They explain to Sidda her mother's experiences, depicted in flashbacks of their childhood, then as young women and mothers, including Sidda's own childhood. Vivi's (Ashley Judd) troubles include: encountering family racism as a child; a bitter, jealous mother who falsely accuses her of incest with her father, and the loss of her true love, Teensy's older brother Jack (Matthew Settle) who is killed in World War II. She settles for an unhappy marriage with Shepherd James "Shep" Walker (David Lee Smith/James Garner), a good and faithful man who loves her, despite the abuse she heaps on him because he isn't Jack.

This is all well and good to Sidda, but doesn't change her opinion of her mother as a self-centered person unable to deal with her troubles, which she has unfairly inflicted on Sidda to the point of needing psychotherapy. Meanwhile, she tells Connor not to send out the wedding invitations, which troubles him enough to come down to Louisiana to find her. The Sisters then realize that Sidda must be told Vivi's deepest, darkest secret in order to understand. They try to persuade Vivi that she must do this herself, but she doesn't have the courage to tell her daughter, so they do it for her with Sidda's father present. In the meantime, Vivi tells Connor herself. The secret is that Vivi eventually had a nervous breakdown, and brutally beat Sidda and her siblings. What the children never knew was that Vivi had taken an overdose of Dexamyl, (an antidepressant used as an amphetamine), and had to be hospitalized.

Sidda finally understands the depth of her mother's suffering, and that she didn't have to waste money on therapy trying to find out why it was her fault. She also recalls a happy memory of her mother: when Sidda missed out on an airplane ride because she was too scared but then changed her mind, Vivi borrowed money to get the pilot to give one more ride, which she took with Sidda. Vivi and Sidda reconcile, and Sidda decides that she wants to marry Connor in Louisiana. Vivi makes her daughter a Ya-Ya headdress, and the Sisters induct her into the order.



  • Directed by Callie Khouri
  • Screenplay by Callie Khouri
  • Adaptation by Mark Andrus
  • Produced by Bonnie Bruckheimer and Hunt Lowry
  • Executive producers : Bette Midler & Mary McLaglen
  • Executive producers : E.K. Gaylord II & Lisa Stewart
  • Director of photography : John Bailey, A.S.C.
  • Production designer : David J. Bomba
  • Edited by Andrew Marcus
  • Music by T Bone Burnett
  • Original score by David Mansfield & T Bone Burnett
  • Costume designer : Gary Jones
  • Associate producers : Scott Elias & Tom Proper
  • Visuals effects by CREO


The film currently holds a 44% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[1]

Box office

Divine Secrets grossed a domestic total of $69,599,016 and $4,240,224 outside the States, totaling $73,839,240 worldwide.[2] The film opened at #2 the weekend of its release with $16,167,412 behind The Sum of All Fears‍ '​s second weekend.[3]


  1. ^ Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood at Rotten Tomatoes
  2. ^ Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ June 7-9, 2002 Weekend

External links

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