CLUELESS. (1995) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CLUELESS. (1995) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY AMY HECKERLING. LOOSELY BASED ON JANE AUSTEN’S NOVEL, ‘EMMA.’

STARRING ALICIA SILVERSTONE, STACEY DASH, BRITTANY MURPHY, PAUL RUDD, DAN HEDAYA, WALLACE SHAWN AND TWINK CAPLAN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Daddy: ‘What did you do in school today, honey?’

Cher: ‘Well, I broke in my purple clogs.’

I have a bit of a girl crush on Alicia Silverstone, so I tend to think well of every film she makes. She’s just so watchable, with that fabulous mop of blonde hair and the wonderfully expressive mouth/face. In CLUELESS, she’s also very likeable, and not at all the raging bitch she could so easily be, with her glorious looks and charismatic personality. Well, I said I had a girl crush, lol.

She still looks amazing at forty-five, hardly much different to the girl who got famous in THE CRUSH (1993) with Cary Elwes, and also by starring in a couple of iconic videos for the rock band Aerosmith, alongside lead singer Steve Tyler’s daughter, the no less stunning Liv Tyler.

I’ve always found Liv Tyler, of LORD OF THE RINGS fame, to be rather blank-faced and kind of flat when it comes to performing, though, in contrast to Alicia Silverstone’s infinitely watchable and animated personas. No offence meant, Livvy love…!

Anyway, in CLUELESS, the romantic high school comedy with its own cult following, spin-off television series and series of Young Adult books, Alicia Silverstone plays the likeable but ultimately ‘clueless’ Cher Horowitz.

Cher is a rich, popular and beautiful student, who attends Bronson Alcott High School in Beverley Hills while living with her father Melvin, a temperamental rich lawyer. Cher’s mum died years ago from a liposuction treatment that went tits-up, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Cher is well liked at school, despite her obvious advantages, which should really make her the butt of terrible jealousy. Her best friend is Dionne, who is dating Murray, who says things like, ‘Woman, lend me some money!’

Cher and Dionne live for fashion, and for going to the mall and shopping till they drop, to the point where Cher’s socially conscious ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd) teases her about it. He says Cher is shallow and superficial and only cares about clothes and what she looks like on the outside, and this really rankles with Cher.

She wants to feel like there’s more to her than just being a clothes horse, and anyway, she’s given away tons of expensive Italian clothes to their European maid, Lucy, so what is Josh even talking about, anyway, the sap?

A matchmaking exercise on Cher’s part to bring together two rather goofy teachers, Mr. Hall (played by Wallace Shawn, who was Vizzini in THE PRINCESS BRIDE) and Ms. Geist, goes extremely well and Cher is pleased with the nice happy feelings it gives her, even though she only did it in the first place out of self-interest, namely, in order to get one of her poor grades ‘re-negotiated.’

Still, that nice, do-good-for-others feeling sticks with her and, when an utterly ‘clueless’ new girl joins the school- Tai Frasier, played by the late Brittany Murphy- Cher decides that it would be an act of charity on her part to take the gammy ugly duckling under her wing and turn her into a swan. Or a clone of herself and Dionne and the other cool girls at Bronson Alcott High School, more like.

The project has mixed results. Cher goes on to fancy a guy who turns out to be gay, then the guy she has earmarked for Tai only has eyes for her, Cher. Cher fails her driving test and, in an unrelated incident, gets mugged at knife-point, while she’s wearing an Alaia dress, if you can believe her bad luck and the terrible timing. To be mugged when you’re wearing Alaia? Unthinkable…

Then she finally realises that the man of her own dreams has been right in front of her all along, only now, someone else has expressed an interest in snagging this particular guy’s attention… the newly popular and fabulised Tai Frasier, who owes both her newfound popularity and her equally newborn fabulousness to Cher. Oh, the delicious irony of it all! Who will win the love of this guy? Cher… or her creation, Tai…?

There’s not much else to say about the movie, except that it was loosely based on Jane Austen’s light comedy EMMA, and several of the characters in CLUELESS correspond with characters in the novel.

Alicia Silverstone looks incredible through the film and is a great little comic actress too. I love her in straight or even nasty roles, for example, she played a very dangerous liar in THE CRUSH, but she has a gift for comedy too, and a delightfully expressive and mobile mouth and face to help her with that. Talk about blessed.

If you want to join the Alicia Silverstone Fan Club, just bung me a few quid here at my home address and I’ll see gets it, honest I will. We’re actually dead good mates on social media, me and her. At least, I think it’s her, could be one of those fan accounts, but anyway, watch the film if you haven’t already seen it.

It’s a good laugh, very of its time- the baggy pants, skateboarding ‘Nineties- and you might even pick up a few fashion tips, lol. Or find out how to get your teacher to change a grade you’re not happy with. I mean, you don’t want to be clueless, do you…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

GIRL, INTERRUPTED. (1999) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

GIRL, INTERRUPTED. (1999) BASED ON THE 1993 MEMOIR BY SUSANNA KAYSEN. DIRECTED BY JAMES MANGOLD.

STARRING WINONA RYDER, ANGELINA JOLIE, WHOOPI GOLDBERG, VANESSA REDGRAVE, JARED LETO, CLEA DUVALL, BRITTANY MURPHY AND JILLIAN ARMENANTE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Do not drop anchor here.’

‘Susanna, you’re hurting everyone around you!’

‘No-one cares if you die, Lisa. You’re already dead!’

‘Because I don’t want to kill myself, that’s not cool to you…?’

‘I’m curious as to why I should have to be in a mental institution, Melvin.’

‘Here’s a piece of advice, lady. Don’t wag your finger at fucking crazy people!’

I don’t really know what blokes would think of this girlie movie, but it’s been on my list of favourite films ever since I actually saw it on the big screen early on in the year 2000. It was my first time ever clapping eyes on Angelina Jolie and I was completely mesmerised by her stunning ‘LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!’ performance.

I’ve never cared much for Winona Ryder, thinking her too moo-cow-eyed, drippy, wishy-washy and mopey-faced, and in this film she’s surely at her mopiest ever playing Susanna Kaysen, the writer of the memoir on which the film is based, but Angelina Jolie, mon Dieu! She steals every scene she’s in as the beautiful, charismatic, dangerous, damaged and unpredictable sociopath Lisa Rowe. Susanna is drawn to her like a moth to a flame, and truly, so was I, lol.   

I should explain. It’s the late ‘Sixties in America. Susanna Kaysen has ‘the distinction of being the only girl in her year at school not going on to college.’ That’s because, although she knows she wants to write, she has no idea of what she wants to ‘do,’ because of course writing is not a proper job or course of action for a young woman on the cusp of life, according to the adults in her life. Grrr.

After having a disastrous affair with a college professor, constantly self-harming and attempting suicide, Susanna is packed off, more or less against her will, to a mental institution called Claymoore for a so-called ‘rest’ of two weeks, which turns into a stay of one whole year.

She has a diagnosis of ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ slapped on her, something of a nothing diagnosis if you ask me. Far be it from me to say that this mental disorder or that one doesn’t really exist, but it just seems like a mish-mash of all the feelings young women tend to normally have in late adolescence anyway, feelings like insecurity, fear of abandonment, fear of never finding the perfect relationship or partner, stuff like that.

Susanna quickly becomes as badly-behaved and self-indulgent as the other brats in her ward. Whoopi Goldberg as the sensible Nurse Valerie- ‘two kids and one bathroom’- doesn’t tolerate her nonsense for a second.

She tells Susanna that she has so much going for her that it would be criminal for her to just get comfortable with the ‘crazy’ label and lie down under it. It takes a while for Susanna to work out that Nurse Valerie is spot on when she advises Susanna: ‘Do not drop anchor here.’

Brittany Murphy, who died tragically young a mere decade after making this film, is superb as the poor Daisy Randone, a sexually abused young woman with an eating disorder and a fast pass to self-destruction. Angelina Jolie’s Lisa is horrible to her and selfishly, almost for fun, gives her that extra push she needs to step off the edge of the world completely. It’s a really sad storyline.

Jared Leto plays the handsome Toby, who’s terrified of being sent to Vietnam (well, I don’t really blame him for that, do you?) so he asks Susanna to run away with him just as company for himself, the little gurrier.

Vanessa Redgrave is suitably superior and ivory-tower-ish as the Great and Powerful Dr. Wick, head shrink at Claymoore. I’m not sure how in touch with the real world and the patients she is, though, up there in her lovely office with her dictionaries and her fancy Latin words.  

Again, though, Angelina Jolie, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lisa, just steals every scene she’s in and is so infinitely watchable as the too-cool-for-school ‘lifer’ who, under her tough, prickly smart-mouth exterior is just crying out to be loved.

And not just the love of a man for a damaged, broken but still sexually desirable little girl, either. She’s had plenty of that, it would seem, but she’s probably never known the genuine affection of one human being for another, and that’s really sad too.

A pretty cool ‘Sixties soundtrack accompanies the scenes of Susanna and her pals at Claymoore running amok in their nice safe sanitarium for- mostly- the daughters of rich folks who can afford to pay to have their problems kept neatly out of sight for a while.

This is mine and my daughter’s favourite girlie film, along with White Oleander, Sleeping with the Enemy, Tina Turner: What’s Love got to do with it?, Erin Brokovich and Gorillas in the Mist.

As I said earlier, I’m not sure what guys will think of the film but, as a woman who was probably just as angsty and as prone to navel-gazing and endless introspection as Susanna Kaysen when I was seventeen (in all fairness, isn’t that what your late teens are supposed to be for, anyway?), I bloody love it. That’s about it, really.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: