24 January 2012

Film review: Beaches (starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey)

We've had this on the shelf of not-yet-watched DVDs for a while; I don't remember why it went on my wishlistk, but think I was given it months ago for my birthday. I recently sorted the shelf alphabetically for want of a better method... and we decided to watch the one furthest to the left, which was 'Beaches'.

We had no idea what to expect. The film opens with a sound-check for CC Bloom (Bette Midler) singing on an outdoor stage. Then a text alerts her to something that shocks her, and she takes a taxi to the airport. There are no seats on any planes, so she starts to drive... we still don't know where she's going or why she is in such a hurry, but as she drives she thinks back to her childhood...

CC was a precociously talented 11-year-old, already street-wise, even smoking, when she met Hillary on the beach. Hillary had temporarily lost her parents and forgotten the name of her hotel. CC offered to escort her back, having determined that it was a top-class 'ritzy' place... and a strange, lifelong friendship is formed between these very different girls. For years they simply correspond by letters, but eventually meet and decide to share lodgings for a while.

The film is about their abiding friendship, despite their very different backgrounds and expectations, and also despite some rather heated arguments. They fall out over a man, and over their very different values... at times the dialogue seems cliched, but for the most part it's a very well-made film, extremely well acted, with believable people. It was made in 1988 although for some reason it feels older than that - possibly due to the childhood scenes, which were evidently meant to take place in the '60s.

The ending did feel rather predictable, the kind of thing that seems to happen a lot in films, but I felt that it was taken somewhat out of the ordinary by the delightful Victoria, played by Grace Johnston. She must have been only four years old at the time, but acted her part to perfection. There were some very moving moments.

All in all, we liked this film very much. It's rated 12 in the UK (PG-13 in the USA), which is probably due to one incident of a 'bad' swear word. The storyline probably wouldn't be of much interest to those under the age of about 12 or 13 anyway.

There were no extras on our copy of the DVD.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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