In 1978, in Broadway, the decadent and narcissist actress Madeline Ashton is performing Songbird, based on Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Then she receives her rival Helen Sharp, who is an aspiring writer, and her fiancé Ernest Menville, who is a plastic surgeon, in her dressing-room. Soon Menville calls off his commitment with Helen and marries Madeline. Seven years later, Helen is obese in a psychiatric hospital and obsessed in seeking revenge on Madeline. In 1992, the marriage of Madeline and Menville is finished and he is no longer a surgeon but an alcoholic caretaker. Out of the blue, they are invited to a party where Helen will release her novel Forever Young and Madeline goes to a beauty shop. The owner gives a business card of the specialist in rejuvenation Lisle Von Rhuman to her. When the envious Madeline sees Helen thin in a perfect shape, she decides to seek out Lisle and buys a potion to become young again. Further, she advises that Madeline must take care of ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In a UK television interview, Meryl Streep was asked about this uncharacteristic role, and she replied that it was too original to pass up. See more »
Gallons of water flow out of Helen's new hole, but there's nowhere it could have come from. Her upper torso has not been hollowed out. See more »
[leaving the theatre in the rain]
Can you believe that? A musical version of "Sweet Bird of Youth."Who are they kidding?
Thank God you wanted to leave...
Can you believe Madeline Ashton? Talk about waking the dead.
I gotta get a drink...
[zoom in on discarded playbill featuring Madeline Ashton]
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I must have seen this film about 15 or so times now. I love the vain, shallow characters of Madeline and Helen who are the ultimate example of what might happen if you took the advice of our "obsessed-with-perfection" media to its illogical conclusion. Meryl and Goldie play their parts with unrestrained enthusiasm, pushing them to the limit to emphasise that these two who believe they are truly beautiful are, after all, just caricatures of perfection.
Like Icarus, Mad and Hell take no advice and pursue the unattainable regardless of the cost. That they see every mountainous obstacle as a mere minor inconvenience helps reinforce the humour of the film. Bruce Willis is marvellous as Ernest, the unhappy mouse caught in the middle of their game; the voice of reason amid lunacy.
The writing is witty and sometimes painfully sharp, emphasising in almost every scene that beauty does not equal happiness, and the closer you come to attaining an obsessively pursued physical perfection, the further you get from real happiness and fulfillment. Stylistically our attention is focused on this concept over and over again, with mirrors and reflections used very creatively throughout the film.
We don't see a lot of clever satire these days, which is a pity. This is a fabulous film.
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