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Culturebox: I Don't Know How She Does It

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I Don't Know How She Does It
Sarah Jessica Parker rides the rapids of upper-middle-class parenthood.
By Dana Stevens
Posted Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, at 1:10 PM ET

I Don't Know How She Does It. Click image to expand.Every so often I wish I could send the psychoanalytic theorist D.W. Winnicott a fruit basket for having invented the concept of "the good-enough mother." Though Winnicott's mid-20th-century coinage of the term long preceded the current era of aspirational parenting (and though some of his ideas about gender roles now read as painfully dated), his generous vision of what constitutes adequate mothering comes as welcome salve on high-stress days (that is to say, the ones that end in a "y").

Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker), the heroine of Douglas McGrath's I Don't Know How She Does It (The Weinstein Co.), needs to read herself some Winnicott. A successful investment analyst at a Boston firm, she's also mother to two young children and wife to an equally ambitious architect (Greg Kinnear) who's well-intentioned but fuzzy on the details of how his family operates. Type-A Kate insists on singlehandedly hostessing elaborate birthday parties, participating in school bake sales (with store-bought pies that she distresses to make them look homemade), and otherwise excelling at the rituals of upper-middle-class parenthood. Meanwhile, at work, Kate is on the brink of landing a career-making account that requires her to work closely with a dashing British banker (Pierce Brosnan) and to travel on a moment's notice.

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Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic. E-mail her at slatemovies@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter.

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