One this episode of Blast From The Past, I’m going to share one of my most favorite “coming of age” movies. No matter how old this movie gets, it will always be one of my all time faves.
Some of you might not know, I was adopted by my grandparents when I was a very small baby. My grandmother and I were extremely close. We did so much together, including watching movies. I believe she is the reason behind my love of film. She introduced me to this…
“Does he love me, I wanna know….”
I really can’t tell you why I love Mermaids with Cher, Winona Ryder, and Christina Ricci so much. The acting was absolutely brilliant. The story was wonderful. It was very relatable. It had comedic moments. It had sadness. The music, awesome. It was just beautifully done.
This movie starts out being narrated by a 15 year old Charlotte Flax (Ryder) in 1963. She lives in Oklahoma with her mother Rachel (Cher) and her 9 year old sister, Kate (Ricci). Seriously, a little chubby cheeked Ricci is the cutest thing. After Mrs. Flax, as Charlotte refers to her mother, ends a fling with her married boss, she pulls out a map and picks a new place to relocate to. This adventure leads them to small town in Massachusetts, where they find a small house by a convent. Charlotte is like completely obsessed with Catholicism and the nuns living close by, though her mother makes a point to remind Charlotte, they’re Jewish, not Catholic. Kate, is a waterbug. She loves the ocean and swimming, having learned to swim as a baby. She competes on a swimming team, winning awards. Her hopes are to become an Olympic swimmer.
Now when I said Charlotte was obsessed with Catholicism I mean she is OBSESSED.
Charlotte meets and becomes very interested in Joe (Michael Schoeffling), a 26 year old, very handsome, bus driver and caretaker at the convent. Charlotte’s thoughts are absolutely downright hilarious and real. Mrs. Flax starts dating Lou (Bob Hoskins), local shoe store owner. The witty banter between Rachel and Lou is adorable. I loved them as a couple, they work very well together. After the assassination of JFK, while the whole town is mourning. Charlotte finds Joe and comforts him…..which leads to a very hot and steamy kiss. However, she freaks out being surrounded by all the Holy statues and takes off. She begins fasting in order to repent for her sinful thoughts and kissing Joe. After passing out from hungry and hearing her mother making a joke about pregnancy, her mom feeds her and tries to gets answers, but Charlotte says nothing, though you do get to hear her super funny naive thoughts. Fearing she may be pregnant by immaculate conception, as punishment by God, she steals her mothers car and runs away.
She ends up in Connecticut, at the house of what she believes is the perfect family. Charlotte comes up with these completely off the wall stories about this family she doesn’t really have. She even told the family her name was Sal Val. It’s obvious the family doesn’t truly believe her wild stories. After a while, Lou shows up to take Charlotte home. Rachel is beyond mad. After a few words she sends Charlotte to her room, afraid of what she might say or do. Rachel calms down after a bit of Scotch. She tries to talk to Charlotte, admitting she’s not the best parent and she’ll do what she can to help and take care of her girls. The following day, Charlotte heads to the clinic for a pregnancy test. Through an embarrassing conversation with the doctor, we find she is a virgin and definitely not pregnant. Isn’t it great to find out one kiss CANNOT get you pregnant!
For a New Year’s Eve party, Rachel dresses up in the best mermaid costume ever lol. I really, really loved it. Charlotte stays home and watches Kate. At the party, Lou asks Rachel to move in with him, she says no. He asks her to marry him, she reminds him that they are both still married to other people. (Those other people long since left) Unwilling to move forward in the relationship and unwilling to end it, Rachel and Lou end up in a big fight where he leaves in a very calm manner. Rachel then asks Joe for a ride home. Upon arriving, she kisses Joe. Charlotte sees the kiss and flips out. She can’t understand why her mother would try and steal the man she liked away.
The night after, Rachel is out again, leaving Charlotte and Kate home. Charlotte decides to get dressed up in Mrs. Flax’s clothes and put her make up on. Charlotte has another bright idea of drinking some wine, which she shares with her sister. Sitting out on the porch swing together laughing and talking, Charlotte hears the church bells ring. Another bright idea leads Charlotte to take Kate to the convent. Kate wants to stay downstairs collecting rocks, while Charlotte goes up the bell tower to see Joe. One thing leads to another and she loses her virginity (again with some hilarious thoughts). During their love making session, Kate falls into the river and nearly drowns. Joe and Charlotte hear the nuns commotion as they rescue Kate, Kate is taken to the hospital. The look on Rachel’s face when she walks into that hospital as she looks at her oldest daughter and Joe, says it all. Joe is asked to take Charlotte home, where she scrubs herself clean and picks up the house, waiting for her mother.
Rachel arrives homes to gather belongings for Kate. She tries to avoid Charlotte but Charlotte won’t let it go. It turns into a huge fight where Rachel tells her kid to pack her stuff they’re moving. A few more words, an insult that shocked even me, and the slap heard around the world. Things calm down a bit and Charlotte convinces her mom to give it one year in the town, to which she agrees.
Some time goes by in their small little town. Rachel and Lou’s relationship gets stronger. Joe moved to California after the whole debacle but still keeps in touch with Charlotte. Charlotte gets a reputation at school, but she enjoys it. She moved on from Catholicism to Greek mythology, which gets another “Charlotte we’re not Greek”. Kate never fully recovered, her hearing now fuzzy sounding. However, the film ends with the trio dancing around the table, to “If You Wanna Be Happy”, preparing a meal.
I adore this film. I could watch it a million times. God knows how many times I’ve already watched it over the years.
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