Like mother like daughter. Really that one clichéd statement can sum up the whole movie. No family is perfect, and this one is no exception. This is the type of families I read about in textbooks, that are my case studies, that I work with during the school year; and so immediately as the movie progressed all I wished was a psychologist to pop up and get Charlotte (Winona Ryder) some help with her daddy issues (which clearly she has a lot of). It also was very disturbing that the 15 year olds love interest is 26 years old and interested in Mrs. Flax/Mother (played by Cher). I remember watching this movie as a child, I was 3 when it came out in 1990, and have not watched it since. I think it’s for good reason. I’m not sure how I would have received the message of this movie when I was a teen.
So what’s the moral of the story? Is there one? And if there is, is it a good one?
No. Plain and simple. We’re introduced to a dysfunctional family where the daughter follows the lead of her fluesy, never-there mother. Charlotte is first introduced to a young girl who grew up in the Jewish religion, however she wants to become a nun (I was pretty confused by that one), anyways, and then has feelings for a boy, no man, who is the handy-man at the monastery, which happens to be right around the corner from their new house. Contrived much? I’m not sure why I have such hard feelings towards this movie, I really love Cher, Ryder, and Ricci, I think they’re all fabulous women, but this movie makes them out to be such loose dummards. I even think the Charlotte-Flax fight is great acting, and the hospital scenes to be great; however in saying that it conjured up no sad feelings. The only part of the movie that struck a cord with me was when President Kennedy was assassinated… and I’m not even American.
Maybe I’m just being a little too hard, maybe it’s because I just cannot connect to these characters. I’ve talked in past blogs about the corruption of innocence and one can definitely argue this is that sort of ‘coming of age’ type movie. Really though, who can relate to this other then a small few who probably haven’t even heard of the movie Mermaids. This movie does have charm, it does have heart-warming moments, but it just didn’t do it for me. There’s too many cringing moments throughout the whole movie that sent my tone much less than pleasant. Even the boots annoyed me. It all just seemed a little out of it’s element, trying to be something is was clearly not, and what that is I’m still debating.
I’ve only been apart of a mass emotion like what was shown in this movie, which was September 11th. I had just gotten out of class and was walking to my next one, almost at the staircase when I overheard a religion teacher talking to a student that they needed everyone to get into class right away, that something awful had happened. We didn’t have TV’s in all the classrooms so the portable TV went from class to class showing us the news. We all sat in silence as the second plane hit the world trade centre. Not knowing what it meant. Not knowing how it was all going to effect us. Living in close proximity, and powering most of New York, we were a prime target for terrorism and so we talked in our classrooms about what we were to do if it happened to our hometown. We were later able to get together with our close friends during school hours to try and grasp hold of what happened. Not one kid made a joke, not one cracked a smile. At that moment we were one group, scared. I hadn’t thought about that day for quite a while. And today it was announced the Iraq War is at an end. We are at the beginning of the end says Obama; but this is not the end for the war in Afghanistan where more Canadian troops are on tour. A friend of my boyfriends was stationed in Afghanistan a little over a year ago, his tank which he was driving was blown up by a roadside bomb. One of his fellow soldiers died, and he and another were injured. This day effects us all, and I hope for a safe return for all troops over the next year.
Although I’ve gone off quite a tangent from the original movie in question it was this that I was thinking about while watching Mermaids. It’s strange how one scene in a merely insignificant moment can remind you of how precious life really is.
Rachel Flax: Charlotte, I know you’re planning a celibate life, but with half my chromosomes, I think that might be tough.