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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Smooth Talk (1985)

During summer vacation between her freshman and sophomore years, a teenage girl (Laura Dern) is going through a sexual awakening while continually at odds with her mother (Mary Kay Place) who doesn't understand her. But a mysterious stranger (Treat Williams) may be the catalyst to growing up. Loosely based on the Joyce Carol Oates short story WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?, director Joyce Chopra uses Oates' dark allegory as a look at a contemporary (Oates' story takes places in the 1960s) teen girls growing up and alienated from their parents while exploring their budding sexuality. But the film's last half hour owes a lot to Oates' literary conceit which clashes with the "realism" of what preceded it in the film. It's jarring and takes a leap of faith to make it work within the overall context of the movie. Nevertheless, it remains a compelling if uneven piece of cinema. Dern is wonderful as she captures every nuance of the confused rebellious teen and Williams makes for a highly effective and sinister menace. With Levon Helm, Elizabeth Berridge, William Ragsdale and Margaret Welsh.

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