How to Make an American Quilt

Released 1995


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Movie Summary

Jocelyn Moorhouse
How to Make and American Quilt is a movie released in 1995 based on the novel of the same name by Whitney Otto. Finn Dodd (Winona Ryder) is a graduate student working on her thesis and reflecting on a recent marriage proposal from her boyfriend. In light of the pressure she’s facing, Finn decides to visit her great aunt and grandmother in Grasse, California. The women are part of a quilting group with several others, and their current project is a wedding gift for Finn. When they learn that she is undecided, the women share their stories of love and loss to help her gain some perspective. Sophia (Samantha Mathis/Lois Smith) was once a diver whose husband came to take her away from her small town life and overbearing mother, but family life turns out to be just as oppressive despite her husband’s attempts to revive the girl he fell in love with. Em (Jean Simmons/ Joanna Going) married a promiscuous man who she suspects of having an affair with her friend Constance (Kate Nelligan), whose happy marriage ended when her husband died. Glady Joe (Claire Danes/ Anne Bancroft) is Finn’s great aunt and her sister Hy (Alice Goranson/ Ellen Burstyn) is Finn’s grandmother. Hy slept with Gladys’ husband when her own was in the hospital, leading to a lifelong rift between the two. Anna (Maria Celedonio/Maya Angelou) had a child by her boss’ son and was thusly abandoned by her family, but found love in her daughter Marianna (Alfre Woodard), also a member of the quilting group, whose promiscuity disguises the true love just out of her reach. Over the making of the quilt, these women share their stories with Finn in hopes that she will decide whether or not her boyfriend is her one true love.moreless


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Comedy, Drama


Family Dramas, Love & Romance