A boy, Buddy, whose parents have split and whose mother is an actress in New York, has been dumped in the south at the small-town home of some older cousins, all of whom are unmarried. ... See full summary »
In the summer of 1947, a mysterious thirteen-year-old girl, accompanied by her mute mother, seemingly appears from nowhere. When two thirteen-year-old boys fall deeply in love with her, they find themselves on a collision course with one another that could not only destroy their friendship, but take the tiny town of Medda, Alabama with them. Written by
Somewhere, in an alternate reality, it could be possible for a 13-year-old girl to have the wisdom of a Socrates, the social awareness of a Martin Luther King, the vocabulary and diction of a college professor, and the grace and beauty of an Audrey Hepburn. On the other hand, putting adult lines in the mouth of a child is usually done for satire. Situation comedies often depend for their gags on having kids speak smart-alecky lines. Hearing wisecracks from a kid that no kid would ever think of makes us laugh, and that's why the formula works. In this case, however, it isn't a comedy, and the lines written for the child are not intended to be amusing.
Of course, no such alternate world exists, but what if it did? And what if such a girl turned up in the reality of a small southern town circa 1947? She would be as foreign and alien to that locality as if she had come from another universe, and in that sense becomes a kind of allegorical figure of redemption. It is presented as a "coming of age" film, but this is not just a story about the normal agonies of growing up. There is a "Twilight Zone" quality to the character of the girl. There are two boys who are "supposed" to be her age, and hence there is a sub-plot concerned with their feelings for her. But psycho-emotionally she is light-years more mature than they, and that is a point most reviewers seem to miss. It isn't so much about youth growing up over a case of first love, but a myth about a daughter of the gods sojourning among the mortals for a season.
Truman Capote, who wrote the original short-story from which this film was adapted, was something of a heretic, and it is tempting to speculate on what the screenwriter might have been thinking in regard to this character. For example: What if Jesus came back in 1947 in the form of a little girl? Wouldn't "that" be a surprise? Not that there is anything about the story to suggest such a "religious" quality, but the character of the girl is clearly mythical in comparison to her alleged contemporaries. She comes into town mysteriously, there are miraculous events associated with her actions, she is wise beyond her years and even the elders are astonished by her words. It is a different story, and a pretty good one as well.
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