MERMAIDS (1990)

 Directed By: Richard Benjamin 
Written By: June Roberts
Based on the book by: Patty Dann
Cinematography: Howard Atherton 
Editor: Jacqueline Cambas 

Cast: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci, Michael Schoeffling, Caroline McWilliams, Jan Miner 

An unconventional single mother relocates with her two daughters to a small Massachusetts town in 1963, where a number of events and relationships both challenge and strengthen their familial bonds.


Cher is the Star of the film even though the film is more centered around Winona Ryder’s character and is at heart a coming-of-age film. Her character ark is a kind of sneak attack where all of a sudden the supporting performance is actually the main one. By the end, we realize she is the film’s heart and soul. 

Here the main spectacle was supposed to be Cher as after all she is the star of the film and is center stage in all the advertisements but while she is healthy in the film she comes on strong at the beginning then becomes more of a supporting background performer. The nemesis to a certain degree of the protagonist is her daughter played by Winona Ryder.

This is a film that is dependent on each element. As only Cher had the star power and the cool to be the spectacle. She ends up doing good character work, but also she is the only person at the time who could play a fabulous independent female character. who is strong and knows what she wants and is not ostracized for it. Where it fits her personality to a t. It also allows for her to shine as a character and show more shades and a bit of vulnerability.

If anything I applaud this movie for its cast. Young Christina Ricci’s debut film and Bob Hoskins as Cher’s love interest and father figure to her daughters. A shoe salesman who is an artist at heart and open-minded, who tries to domesticate the family but not forcefully. He is understanding and a nice guy. Not to mention Michael Schoeffling is older, but kind of playing an older version of the same type of character he played in SIXTEEN CANDLES more of a mystery but genuinely a nice guy

Though Winona Ryder at large walks away with the whole film. Playing a teenage neurotic girl who also is the narrator and makes this almost a woody Allen Esque adventure in pursuing a crush. Only while the film seems that way it is about more than that. As she is driven by teenage angst and catholic religious obsession. Not to mention the changing and challenging times of the 1960s

Directed by Richard Benjamin who was a replacement for original director Lasse Hallstrom. and then Frank Oz. Before he finally came along. Whereas you could see Hallstrom’s version in your thoughts. Richard Benjamin’s direction is sensitive and strong.  Even more impressive that he was more of a last-minute replacement. One of his best-directed pictures. While some others came close this was truly his most heartwarming and dramatic that hit all the buttons. His best next to this movie MY FAVORITE YEAR.

By the end, the film shows how when young something can be an obsession you think about day and night but also how once something new comes along it can easily be dropped and forgotten entirely. It’s a quality of youth but might also be an inherited quality. 

Though this film at times might seem more formulaic, one quality the film possesses. Is that it feels lived in. It’s comfortable and feels more natural. The habitat of the characters is refreshing and gives the scenes so much more strength and allows them to be subtle when they need to be. 

The film even has a memorable soundtrack. Including the theme song which is a remake but sung by the star Cher. 

I will admit this is more of an underrated film that I have enjoyed ever since it came out. 

Grade: B

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