Friday, August 19, 2016

Retro Review: MERMAIDS (1990)

Welcome to another installment of RETRO REVIEW, where we take a look at films made before the year 2000. This week I'll be reviewing the 1990 drama MERMAIDS starring a young Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci in her first starring role. 

Mermaids is a film that deals with the plagues of growing up, especially during the teenage years. It explores the often tempestuous relationship between mothers and daughters, which is what drew me to review this film.  

The film takes place around the time of the Kennedy assassination. It starts with Mrs. Flax, played by Cher, moving her two daughters, 15 year old Charlotte and 9 year Kate, to yet another town. Charlotte, played by Winona Ryder, doesn't understand her mother's unconventional ways. She's curious about the opposite sex, yet plans on becoming a nun. Kate is a great swimmer and loves the water.

All the performances were great. Cher had a quirky vulnerability that she brings to all her roles. I also enjoyed Winona Ryder as Charlotte because she was innocent yet curious. One of my favorite scenes in this film is when Charlotte meets her new bus driver, Joe. He is the typical older man that teenage girls like to swoon over. If you are familiar with Sixteen Candles, then you will recognize him as Michael Schoeffling, who played Jake in Sixteen Candles

Charlotte is not the only one who meets someone special. Her mother starts dating the town shopkeeper, Lou. Mother and daughter collide on many issues, and Charlotte swears she won't be like her mother. However, by the end of the film she gains a better appreciation of her. Every teenage girl has some issue with their mother. As children grow up, we tend to judge our parents harshly. But then, when we have our own children, we realize being a parent is both rewarding and challenging at the same time.

I relate to this film because I see a part of me in Charlotte, a young teenager struggling to grow up admist chaos. Charlotte also doesnt think her mother acts the way a mother is supposed to act, which I also felt this way growing up. Mermaids was a great film because it showed that not everyone has the perfect neutral family. I didnt have this and maybe that is why I gravitated toward this film. Some may frown upon this film because of the absence of a father for the daughters. But, that is more of a reality than people think. Being a mother is challenging, but a single mother usually does it alone.

I enjoyed this film because it reminded me of my relationship with the older women in my life. It did a fantastic job of exploring the interesting dynamic between mothers and daughters.

Lisa's Score: 8/10

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