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Smooth Talk
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Reviews & Ratings for
Smooth Talk More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Every parent of a daughter should see this film

Author: dennis_speer from santa cruz california
11 June 2004

I was impressed with Laura's acting and thought she portrayed the difficulty of dealing with coming of age in a touching and realistic manner. Her hormones outpaced her friends noticeably and that put her at odds with her closest friends and also made her the target of males far beyond her abilities to understand and defend herself from. My daughter is now grown and survived her teen years quite well. I thought of this film often during those years and am thankful she did not develop early and that she had sufficient parenting to avoid characters such as Treat played. I have not found this movie available on tape or disc and feel that that is a great loss.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Minor's Accident Waiting To Happen

7/10
Author: Predrag (pzivojinovic@yahoo.com) from Serbia
24 June 2016

Smooth Talk is one of the few films ever made whose climactic scene takes place on the borderline between reality and the imagination. That scene is done so beautifully by Dern and Treat Williams that one never forgets it. But the whole movie is full of wonderful moments. For instance, after her first fight with her mother (and the sparks that fly between Dern and Mary Kay Place every time their eyes meet capture the hormones-versus-hormones explosiveness of adolescence versus middle age marvelously) Dern walks through a fruit orchard. This is Chopra's way of hinting to us that the Garden of Eden, the loss of innocence, lies behind the story. The parents are house-poor, having had enough money to buy the house three years ago but not to decorate it. The inside is a chaos of paint cans, ladders, strips of wallpaper. This mirrors the chaos inside the emotions of the developing girl.

There are some awkward scenes in this film version of the famous Joyce Carol Oates story, "Where are you going? Where have you been?", mainly because the original short story was set in the 1950's and the film is set in the 1980's thus the James Dean posters in Connie's room, the fact that Arnold Friend (Treat Williams) is a James Dean look-a-like who drives a muscle car, and that all the high school kids hang out at the local drive-in seem out of place in the 1980's. And yet, even with the anachronisms, as an evocation of a certain time of life it still works. Anyways, the film tells of young fifteen year old Connie who discovers herself at a local burger place. Well, I guess that is over simplifying it a bit. She lives in the shadow of her older, perfect sister and she suffers under the sharp eye of her defeated mother. She feels hated and alone and so this moves her to act out, seeking attention from boys who find her attractive and deem her rather easy. The film moves around at an almost stagnant pace for a while, allowing us to see Connie in various compromising situations without really letting anything happen that sustains our interest. Then all of a sudden this guy who we have seen briefly throughout the film makes his advancements to Connie in a rather strange way and we are supposed to be drawn into her ultimate decision.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Well-earned

Author: Red_Identity from United States
30 December 2014

This was definitely somewhat different to what I had expected. The performances are exquisite, Laura Dern proving she had enormous talent at such a young age. She's fantastic here, infusing her character with the much needed charm and likability it needed, while also proving to be strong-willed and vulnerable in her own way. She certainly had a great year in 1985, with between this and Mask, and it's great to see some of the acting notes she would come to perfect even later on in her career. The supporting cast is nicely balanced and also provides some strong work. The film is contemplative and calm, and the sentiment at the end is very well-earned, such a great final scene to go along with the rest of what the film was actually doing.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Horror story becomes after school special

6/10
Author: pocca from Canada
15 May 2005

The Joyce Carol Oates story this movie is based on, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You been" would have made an excellent thirty minute short. But to make it into a feature length film a lot of padding was necessary, and the sort of padding used was of the banal, coming of age sort you've probably seen in dozens of television programs and movies already.

Laura Dern is well cast as the blonde, leggy teen-aged Connie, a typical teenaged girl who is neither particularly likable nor unlikable when she and her gaggle of female friends tentatively strut and giggle around boys at a local mall (the drive-in sixties of Joyce's story is updated easily enough to the shopping mall eighties). Later, when she is home alone with Arnold Friend, the very bad character all that flirting has inadvertently attracted (Oates based him on an actual serial killer, Charles Howard Schmid, who murdered several teens in Tucson, Arizona in the mid sixties) she is very convincing when she is shaking and crying for her mother. Oates' story ends with a terrorized Connie departing with Arnold--her fate is unknown, but going by Arnold's threats and crude, brutal banter it seems more likely than not that Connie will be raped and killed. However, in the movie, Connie is brought back home by Arnold a few hours later, a bit shaken but not particularly the worse for wear--in fact she is more thoughtful and kind than she was before towards her nattering mother (well played by Mary Kay Place) and frumpy older sister. In other words, we have gone from Oates to Degrassi High and the horror that characterized the second half of Oates' text (and that the first half was leading up to) has been pretty much bled out of the story.

"Smooth Talk" is worth checking out for the strong performance of Laura Dern in an early role but don't expect Oates.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Sexy is sometimes best when it stays between your ears

8/10
Author: Kent Smith (kentsmit@gte.net)
17 January 1999

Ok. Almost nothing actually happens in this film, but that does not mean it isn't tense, exciting, interesting, and very sexy.

Laura Dern could start forest fires just by standing too close to the trees. Everything about this film reflects the quality and talent that went into making it.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Wow. Bad.

4/10
Author: gavin6942 from United States
28 January 2017

A free-spirited 15-year-old girl trapped in the body of a 25-year-old woman (Laura Dern) flirts with a dangerous stranger (Treat Williams) in the Northern California suburbs and must prepare herself for the frightening and traumatic consequences.

I had moderate expectations for this film. I figured anything from the 1980s, which was a thriller and had Laura Dern could not be awful. But, you know what, it was actually rather disappointing. Other than maybe ten minutes of suspense, it is basically a movie about a teenage girl and her friends hopping and being generally irresponsible. Nothing to see here.

In 1985, this might have been something groundbreaking, but today (2017) it comes across as a Lifetime movie of the week. I suppose it is a good film to see for James Taylor fans, but otherwise you're not missing much.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Boring three quarters coming-of-age, one quarter thriller

5/10
Author: jadavix from Australia
26 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Smooth Talk" is a strange, languid coming-of-age movie that makes a surprising shift into thriller territory toward the end.

It's about a young girl, played by Laura Dern, who has a strained relationship with her mother. She lies to her about where she is going so that she can go hang out with her friends. She flirts with boys, and some of these encounters are harmless and fun. Others are threatening.

At a party she meets a strange man in passing who tells her he is watching. We don't know how she feels about this, but if the encounter is expected to generate suspense, it doesn't. You might not even notice.

Later, the guy (played by Treat Williams) shows up, acting like a refugee from a generic thriller. The scene isn't scary, but the characters talk for so long that you don't know if it's supposed to be. Isn't the girl scared to the point of ending the conversation?

The thriller aspect is handled so negligibly that you are left only with the teen girl angst stuff, which is also just not that interesting or convincing.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Summer Day.

5/10
Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
26 November 2013

Joyce Chopra directed this adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates short story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" that stars Laura Dern as teenager Connie Wyatt, who is spending the summer in a cottage somewhere in California, who has grown bored and restless, and spends much of her time at the mall with her friends chasing boys. One day, things take a strange turn when, after Connie is left alone for a day because she doesn't want to go on a family outing, is confronted by a "smooth talking" older man named Arnold Friend(played by Treat Williams) who drives up to her home, and tries to convince Connie to take a ride with him... Good performances(especially by Dern) but film never really goes anywhere, and ends inconclusively.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Look It Up!

Author: lighterfluid from Mo
23 September 2002

I just read some of the other comments about it not making sense. Perhaps looking things up before deciding that it doesn't make sense would be more intelligent. The numbers on the car, for instance, make chilling sense when you bother to find out what it symbolizes.

This is a good movie, but a better story. I'd recommend reading it first.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Read the story first

Author: TrickyPiranha from Boston, MA
24 May 2002

The movie is for the most part was good. I recommend reading the short story which it is based on before you see the movie. The movie sticks to the plot for the most part, but there are a few differences that shouldn't have been added in. The roles of the parents were good and accurately got across the ideas that Connie disliked in them. Laura Dern as Connie did an average job of portraying Connie, the shallow 15 year old. Treat Williams was excellent as the disturbing Arnold Friend. The biggest problem with this film is they gave it a Hollywood "happily ever after" which is completely different from the dark ending of the story. "Where you are going, where have you been" is a very good story and is much darker than "Smooth Talk" but if you are a fan of the story, check this out to compare.

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