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How to Make an American Quilt (Ws)
How to Make an American Quilt
Actors: Winona Ryder, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft, Kate Nelligan, Alfre Woodard
Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Genres: Comedy, Drama
PG-13     1999     1hr 49min

When a graduate student becomes torn between her marriage minded boyfriend and a sexy new man in her life she seeks the advice of an extended family of eccentric females. A touching tapestry that celebrates finding your wa...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Winona Ryder, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft, Kate Nelligan, Alfre Woodard
Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Creators: Deborah Jelin Newmyer, Laurie MacDonald, Midge Sanford, Sarah Pillsbury, Walter F. Parkes, Jane Anderson, Whitney Otto
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/23/1999
Original Release Date: 10/06/1995
Theatrical Release Date: 10/06/1995
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 49min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Wonderful Tear Jerker with an All-Star Cast
seasidewanderer | Portland, OR United States | 06/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""How to Make an American Quilt" is one of my favorite "chick flicks." And hopefully labeling a movie as a "chick flick" doesn't immediately damn it into some lesser category. When I want to curl up in a quilt on a rainy day and sip hot cocoa and watch a movie, "American Quilt" would be a perfect choice. This is one of the few times when I liked the movie far better than the book--which I read second. From the moment that I hear the first strains of the movie's soundtrack, I'm ready to grab a box of Kleenex and settle in.In "American Quilt," Finn (Winona Ryder) comes to spend the summer with her grandmother Hy (Ellen Burstyn) and great aunt Glady Jo (Anne Bancroft) in Grasse, California. Her plan is to finish her master's thesis while considering the marriage proposal of her long-time sweetheart, Sam. Finn's inability to stick with a project--she's changed thesis topics countless times--seems about to derail her relationship with Sam.'s main review criticizes the movie adaptation of the Whitney Otto novel for focusing too much on Finn. I thought that Finn's attempt to sort out her feelings about relationships, while talking to the other women in Hy and Glady Jo's quilting group, sewed the story together quite well. As Finn is pondering whether a modern, intelligent woman can preserve a sense of self within a marriage, one by one, her grandmother, aunt, and their friends share the stories of their marriages or their most significant relationships. Older women sharing their life experiences to help guide a younger woman rang very true to life. Poet Maya Angelou turns in a surprisingly powerful performance as the leader of the quilting group. Her story of how, as an unwed mother, she came to work for Hy and Glady Jo's mother, is one of my favorites. She holds her own with this great actresses. Bancroft and Burstyn are wonderful as sisters whose love for each other has endured, despite betrayal. Samantha Mathis, as the young Sophia Darling, is stellar as the diver who can't wait to shake off the dust of her small town and explore the world, and who discovers that realizing such dreams aren't so easy.As a quilter, I absolutely loved the various quilts seen in the movie. I appreciated the detail of including fabrics seen in the flashback scenes into the blocks that each woman contributes to the friendship quilt. The quilts that Anna shows to Finn--including an old slave quilt that was especially designed and made for the movie and a baby quilt featuring African animals--are some of my favorite quilt designs."
Quite Good! Man Likes this Chick Flick!
Andrew J. DiLiddo Jr. | Maryland USA | 11/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Firstly, I am a man reviewing this "chick flick". But, I was touched by the premise of the film without even knowing there was a book too. So, my review here is just about the film, not a film to book comparison.I found the setting of the story, an agriculture region of California, beautiful, and the cinematography quite good. It is a pleasant and aesthetic picture for the eye. The cast is dynamite, Ellen Burstyn, Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft,
and all the others! The acting I found superb. Other reviewers who criticize Winona Ryder I do not agree with. I found Ryder's
acting and portrayal of a confused graduate student, not quite knowing what to do and where to go very credible, and quite believable! I felt the director of the movie was very true to the portrayal of this important point in one's life, where one has to decide who to spend the rest of their life with. I think many in our society don't really examine this aspect of our lives and I believe negative reviewers are those folk who have not experienced this maybe in their lives as of yet. I found the older characters reminiscing to their younger selves a powerful device, powerfully employed by the Director. It is quite easy to critique and blithely say the flashback device was over used. But, such analysis, does not give fair credit to the full employ of the flashback device use with a twist in this film. For me, it was a powerful message. The older women, still with that younger self as a component of their souls, was what the flashbacks were about. Truly, an erudite portrayal by all the actors and the director of how we "quilt" our love(s) into our lives. Highly recommended only for those who know the meaning of love in their lives and how difficult it can be at times to sort through that confusion. A poignant portrayal by all actors and kudos to Ryder for the confusion, anger, limbo, etc. of her character. I felt Winona demonstrated a virtuouso range, and those who do not recognize it, maybe have not experienced this range in their lives as of yet. The film is one that I would gladly watch again. I don't do that too often."
How to Make an American Quilt
Kelly | Littleton, Colorado | 04/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did. It is about a group of women that have been working in a quilting circle together for many years. Each contributes a square to the quilt using the theme where love resides. As each member works on their individual square, we are taken back in history with them to see how events and choices have shaped their lives. This is a very intense and poignant story that will have a hankie moment or two.
--Delightful film--
Judith Miller | Bluemont, VA USA | 11/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Starting with the title, which is terrific, I also liked the great cast of actors who were chosen for the film. The story begins when Finn (Winona Ryder) comes to spend the summer with her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and her aunt (Anne Bancroft) at a grand old house in California. Finn is a graduate student who wants to spend the summer working on her thesis. She also needs a break from her boyfriend who wants to marry her. She's very indecisive about everything in her life, and I honestly found her part to be a little boring. The best parts of the story are about the friends that her grandmother and aunt share and their involvement in a quilting circle. The quilting ladies are all quite different and through flashbacks we're given a glimpse of them as young women and the love or lack of love in their lives. Jean Simmons plays one of the women, and I was delighted to see her acting again. I loved the scenes where the quilters, are working around a table in the lovely old house. The set designs were beautiful and perfect for the story.At a certain point in the film, we come to find out that the theme of the quilt is "where love resides." Every quilter is making a block from her own experience in life. Finn also learns that the quilt is her wedding gift.HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT is an enjoyable movie. I think that the individual stories could have been a little more informative, but all things considered it's a wonderful movie and worth seeing."