New York pretentious Diana Sullivan is writing a series of articles on the theme of “family” for Cosmopolitan magazine. Primarily to keep an eye on her but also because of the personal connection, Diana invites her mid-teen daughter, Grace Sullivan, to accompany her on a trip to research the next in the series, dealing with their own family, most specifically a wing that lives deep in the backwaters of the Louisiana bayou, which has been largely overtaken by oil companies of late.
They are most directly connected by brothers: Diana’s grandfather Mike, and Joe, the patriarch of the Louisiana wing. Diana and Grace have never met their Louisiana relations, they in turn who do not even know that Diana and Grace exist. As difficult as it becomes, Diana and Grace are able to meet their Louisiana relations, led by Joe’s widowed young wife, Ruth Sullivan, who acts as if Joe is still with them, who sees anything related to the city as suspect, and who rules her household with an iron fist.
Shy People is a critically acclaimed 1987 American drama about two branches of a family that reunite with tragic results, starring Barbara Hershey, Jill Clayburgh, and Martha Plimpton. It was directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, written by Konchalovsky, Marjorie David and Gerard Brach, and features music by the German electronic music group Tangerine Dream.
Hershey won the Best Actress award at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival for her performance. It was one of the last movie roles for actor Merritt Butrick who died from AIDS in 1989. It was filmed in by the bayous of South Louisiana. The film was later released on VHS on September 1, 1998, however, as of October 2014, it has not been released on DVD.
Shy People was shot by two-time Academy Award-winner Chris Menges, who also worked on A World Apart, a film for which Barbara Hershey was recognized at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.
Awards and Nominations
Winner: 1987 Cannes Film Festival – Best Actress – Barbara Hershey
Nominee: 1987 Cannes Film Festival – Golden Palm
Nominee: 1988 Independent Spirit Awards – Best Supporting Actress – Martha Plimpton
Shy People (1988)
Directed by: Andrey Konchalovskiy
Starring: Jill Clayburgh, Barbara Hershey, Martha Plimpton, Merritt Butrick, John Philbin, Don Swayze, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Mare Winningham, Brad Leland
Screenplay by: Andrey Konchalovskiy, Gérard Brach
Production Design by: Stephen Marsh
Cinematography by: Chris Menges
Film Editing by: Alain Jakubowicz
Costume Design by: Katherine Dover
Set Decoration by: Leslie Morales
Art Direction by: Leslie McDonald
Music by: Tangerine Dream
Distributed by: Golan-Globus
Release Date: March 11, 1988