I Saw A Film!
Tweens in the city, doing nothing but being snarky and shop-lifting. One a working-class kid, the other from a nice white-collar home go on a few misadventures, and learn a little about life. The magic of this film is in its realism, there’s no fantastic escape and no gang violence. The ladies simply skip some school, play a bit of make-believe, and exercise some emotional outreach.
Danny Aiello stars as the working-class dad, not perfect, but taking care of his family as best he can, old-school, often worn out on the sofa, and while he doles out a few slaps (deserved), he’s not what many films would have done, which would have been to give him a drinking habit and have him throwing the kids through windows (or worse). Thank you for being so prosaic. On the wealthier side, while the parents are both busy they aren’t disinterested, and so we’re not faced with Hollywood film caricatures of adults.
As for the ladies they’re at the stage where sexuality is about to become their full time interest, but just now, being besties and trying to keep one another’s expectations satisfied is the start of the step-wise increase in relationship complexity we’ll face throughout our lives. There are also older brothers, and attractive lady tenants to navigate, along with the usual distractions kids face, even without the internet or cell phones. One of the more fun moments is between the sisters, the younger having arranged the living room seat cushions into a complex home where she’s the mommy taking care of a baby and chastising her older sister for falling out an imaginary window, but, with a wave of her hands she brings her sister back to life. This is a charming moment of remembering the ease of play and whimsy. On the street the kids all spread the word that an elderly tenant has died, and with the aplomb of kids only just past the magic stage, they are without anything to say or think about it. Unstated is the fact that this problem will never really be resolved, our lives continuously flow toward that ultimate darkness, but for now we chew gum, try on clothes and play stickball with the older kids.
For a moment the girls reenact a sequence I lived at their age with my catholic buddy who was an alter boy. I was a bit taken aback to learn all the weird stuff he took to be literal truth in terms of sinning and black marks on our souls that had to be fixed before we could go to heaven. My folks had never prepared me for these sorts of variations in people’s understanding of the world, and my curiosity got the better of me until a couple of years later (no longer around my Catholic buddy, but in the West of Pennsylvania) after coming back from having been saved by a preacher-lady and a ventriloquist dummy (not kidding!) in a small one room school turned temporary faith gathering, I was sat down and gently told that Mom and Dad didn’t go for that stuff. I don’t remember being particularly shaken, it seemed like something I could drop. But, you know, I still have that being saved going for me!
The film is filled with a simple keyboard/synth soundtrack that sounds remarkably modern, and is quite catchy and delightful. Another sweet aspect of the film is that neither of these ladies is a huge star. Their accomplishment seems all the more impressive that their paths would lead them mostly away from besmirching this lovely start. This film does everything it needs to, and better than nearly anything except Netflix’s Big Mouth which is wonderfully snappy comic fun, but, of course, almost entirely filled with naive wild rides. I highly recommend both!
This is for free on Prime, which tonight when I typed 80’s Rom-Coms offered me Aliens, I suppose.