I still can’t watch this movie and get beyond Holly Hunter’s performance in it. It’s just too f*cking painful for words, and made all the more unbearable by the fact that her character absolutely does not deserve the ordeal. She’s painted from the start as the most perfect mother ever. She’s hip – a hairdresser working from home – sure, not raking in the cash, but holding things together – and when her daughter expresses the urgent need to change her wardrobe, she doesn’t even blink before whisking her out to buy stuff from a thrift van. When Tracy’s new friend Evie first lays eyes on her, the description is, “She’s like the hot big sister,” and it’s not just sweet-talk like all the rest that comes out of Evie’s mouth, it’s genuine surprise. She’s like the dream mother for a teenage girl – but of course, it’s not good enough for Tracy, because she is a teenage girl.
I think this is my third viewing of the movie, and I still get more out of it each time I see it. Something I noticed last time but forgot to keep track of this time is the cinematography. I’m pretty sure the colour drains out at some point, or gradually as the movie goes on – not completely to black and white, but to a kind of bleach-bypass look, reflecting how the cute pre-teen Tracy, who hugs her closest friends and acts like an all-round angel of a girl, has been replaced by the rebellious pubescent monster who casts off her old friends for the one who’s going to prove the worst for her, Evie. It’s not till the final shot, of mother and daughter laying together on Tracy’s bed after the unbearable climactic scene, that the colour finally comes back with the rising of the sun before the film cuts to Tracy on a playground roundabout, facing the camera, the background a blur as she spins, as she screams the film to its inconclusive end.
This is a movie with questions without answers, that just states what’s happening and doesn’t criticise it at all. It pretty much makes the point that, perhaps this process is necessary, we need to f*ck up to grow, we need pain to move forward, we need friction to bond.
Whatever it’s all about, I still say the movie is at least worth watching for Holly Hunter’s performance.