Smooth Talk ★★★★

An intervention in the '80s teen movie, with the predatory male behavior foregrounded instead of being made to look funny. (Seriously, NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST., made the same year, exists in the same world of useless adults who can't help teenagers' overpowering and justified fear.) Connie (Laura Dern) doesn't get along with her mom, and even when she takes refuge at her beloved mall, she's surrounded by creepy boys. At the time of SMOOTH TALK's original release, B. Ruby Rich accused it of slut-shaming (before that word entered our vocabulary). While I don't really agree, a few shots imply that Connie's choice of revealing clothing led to unwanted male attraction, particularly the one where Arnold Friend (Treat Williams) is introduced. But the film shows how healthy expressions of teenage girls' sexuality are impossible in an environment where adult/teen tension is so thick and the vocabulary about consent doesn't even exist. And I mean "shows" - Joyce Chopra had a terrific command of framing, especially when SMOOTH TALK turns horror-adjacent in the final half hour. While not the kind of film that feels especially "fast-paced," I looked at my phone thinking half an hour had passed and realized the movie was 5 minutes from ending.

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