Roundup: Female Friendship in the Movies

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movies to watch, chick flick, girl friends

Art Credit: Gabriela Hansen

This Summer’s The Heat focuses on the unlikely friendship that develops between an ambitious, by-the-books Federal agent, played by Sandra Bullock, and a loud-mouthed, unconventional, yet highly effective Boston cop played by Melissa McCarthy. Actually the friendship is not all that unexpected since these opposites attract pairings are the hallmark of buddy movies. The movie has drawn remarks not only for its box office success but for the fact that such movies starring women are rare. Which means that if your appetite has been whetted for more films with female friendships, you may want to access your computer or television, rather than the local theater.

There are several other good female buddy movies out there (Feds, Outrageous Fortune) and sure you have your Beaches, your Sisterhoods, and your Ya Ya’s, but here are some other worthy mentions dealing with the good, the bad, the just plain crazy, and and the ever so complicated world of female friendships.

So Good:

Satisfaction. Don’t let the low imdb.com rating fool you, this is the bestest summer movie of all time. A young, winsome Julia Roberts is part of an all-girl band that gets a summer gig at a bar on the coast and then is offered the possibility of touring in Europe. Before Jacob Black come on the scene with his promises of true love and immortality, this was every young girl’s fantasy. The lead singer Jennie (Justine Bateman) is the ambitious one who dreams of rock stardom, but, disappointingly, her fellow band mates aren’t singing the same tune. If you find you agree with imdb haters, it’s still worth watching for the late 80’s fashion. Fun Fact: Britta Phillips, the lovable drugged out bassist, was the voice of the cartoon Jem.

So Bad:

All About Eve. Just because summer is slow and languorous doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some razor sharp wit and snappy dialogue. Aspiring actress Eve, played by Anne Baxter, gets a leg up in the theater world by ingratiating herself with star Margo, played by Bette Davis. But as we soon learn, Eve’s sickly sweet demeanor may be hiding something more acidic. In truth, the real friendship here is between Margo and Celeste Holm’s Karen, a playwright’s wife. Karen is a great character all around and a loyal friend, the type we all could use. Fun Fact: Anne Baxter, though slightly dullsville and much less famous than Bette Davis, also stars in I Confess, another good movie to check out if you are a fan of Hitchcock, Montgomery Clift or the seal of confession.

Crazy:

The Duchess. Friends share many things and the British nobility are no different. The Duchess of the film’s title is the the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish, played here by Keira Knightly. Soon into the film the young duchess’ dreams of love are crushed by the fact of her husband, the Duke of Devonshire, a cold, stubborn autocrat whose only real interest in Georgiana is her potential to produce a male heir and her inclusion in Burke’s Peerage. When not playing with his dogs, he can be found chasing any woman not bound to him by holy matrimony. Heartbreak sends Georgiana into a deep friendship with Lady Bess Foster. Equally unlucky in love, Lady Bess Foster shares Georgiana’s confidences and, as the plot develops, a whole lot more. A. Lot. More. Alone and betrayed, Georgiana embarks on reckless behavior that leaves her more alone and betrayed with no one to turn to except . . . Lady Bess Foster. Things were tough back then. Fun Fact: Georgiana Cavendish is an ancestor or Lady Di. Both were known for their fashion sense.

It’s Complicated: 

Friends with Money and Walking and Talking.In a long friendship, it’s likely that your relationship will change due to factors you dared never dream of.  What if all your friends become wildly successful while you remain a failure and fall so low that you end up cleaning the houses of your rich friends’ acquaintances?

What if your best friend since childhood moves out of your shared apartment, abandons your shared cat, and marries the man of her dreams while you, perennially single, finally deign to go out with that weird video store clerk only to be spurned by him after you’ve actually started to like him?  Viewer, I pray such things never happen to you, but these worst-case scenarios are the stuff of writer/director Nicole Holofcener’s sardonic and low-key movies.

If you’re getting tired of watching things blow up this summer, you may be ready to dial it down with one of these observant gems.  Fun Fact:  Actor/Director Todd Field plays the fiancé of the character Laura in Walking and Talking.  He went on to direct the film In the Bedroom, nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

(Photo by Gabriela Hansen)