Plot of the Movie "Carolina"

by Cathryn Whitehead

"Carolina" is a 2003 romantic comedy movie that quickly went to video in the United States. Written by Katherine Fugate, a Los Angeles screenwriter, the movie was based on memories of her grandmother. The movie was directed by Dutch film maker Marleen Gorris and stars Julia Stiles as the title character who was raised with her two sisters by her eccentric grandmother, played by Shirley MacLaine.

Family Conflict

Carolina Mirabeau and her sisters, Georgia and Maine, have different mothers but share the same alcoholic father, Theodore Mirabeau. Ted leaves his daughters, who were named after the states they were born in, with his outspoken mother, Millicent Mirabeau to raise. As the girls grow, they are unaware that they have inherited many of their grandmother's eccentric qualities, and Carolina is desperate to make a life different from the one Grandma Mirabeau leads.

Love Triangle

Carolina works screening candidates for a television dating show. Though she's not very good at her job and ends up getting fired, she manages to get engaged to Heath Pierson, a perfect, upper-class British man she met on the TV set. This dismays her best friend, author Albert Morris who has fallen in love with Carolina. Carolina is oblivious to Albert's feelings for her. She is worried about the effect meeting her family will have on her normal life with Heath.

Family Drama

Grandma Mirabeau's bawdiness, questionable antics and eccentric ways embarrass Carolina, who dreams of life with a normal family. Subplots include her unwed sister Georgia's pregnancy and her youngest sister Maine's obsession with winning the lottery. The focus is on the family's interactions in both dramatic and comedic situations.


The plot of the movie is not only based on the romantic resolution concerning choice of Carolina's life partner, but also on the influence of family in defining who she is and what she really needs. The realization that she neither needs nor wants to escape the family she loves brings the movie to its expected, heartwarming conclusion.

About the Author

Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.