Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Heathers (1989)

Directed by Michael Lehmann
The Heathers is definitely The Mean Girls and Jaw Breakers of the 80's. It offers a dark, satirical perspective of high school and popularity. What makes the film so comical is that all of the female clique members besides Veronica are named Heather. This adds an almost unreal characteristic to film, but as one watches the film it is clear to see how unrealistic and imaginary the whole film is. While this film depicts the cruelty of high school girls and cliques it does it in a way that makes the audience laugh because the characters in the film do not seem to understand how truly mean they are being and how they are living in a fantasy world.

The Heathers is the story of Veronica Sawyer who is in the popular group called the Heathers. Unlike the other girls in the group, she is not nearly as stuck up and does not understand why they are either. She claims the only reason she hangs out with them is because it is her "job." We often see the clique playing croquet, making fun of people, and using their own slang. While Veronica hates them, she initially does not do anything about it. As the film progresses, we see Veronica hating the Heather's more and more. One night after the "head" Heather embarrasses her at a party she has had enough. We see her at home frantically writing in her diary about how much she hates the three Heathers. When she meets Jason Dean, everything changes for her. He gives her the confidence to disassociate from the Heathers, but at the same time kill the head "Heather" by going over to her house with drain cleaner. At first Veronica is relieved but then she begins to realize that even though one is dead, there are still two others and another assumes the "head" role. As they continue their killing spree murdering two football players, other students start to kill themselves because it is the "cool" thing to do, leaving Veronica feeling guilty. She tells Jason Dean she cannot do this anymore and he freaks out attempting to kill her, but she fakes a suicide. When she learns Jason is going to set a bomb off at a school pep rally, she goes where they get into a fight and she shoots his middle finger off. After he rushes out to the pep rally and detonates a bomb, we see Veronica ashy and bleeding. The last scene that we see is Veronica ripping the red bow out of Heather Duke’s hair that she always wears and putting it in her own hair.

This is one of the best black comedies made, especially for the time since it is one of the first 80's films to depict the true dark side of high school. While John Hughes films may shine some light on the cruelties in high school, it does not compare to this which gives a much colder and harsh view. In addition to this, the cast is brilliant with Winona Ryder playing Veronica as a disturbed but truly enlightening character. Even though this film is old, it still depicts high school cliques in a light that may still be too familiar for some.

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