Favourite / Film / Film with Female Lead / Philosophy / Review

Beaches (1988)


 

Can miles truly separate you from friends?… If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?
Richard Bach

Beaches, an all-time classic in every buddy-film fan’s collection (or simply, classic collection) features a beautiful story of two best friends and the evolution of their lives and their all-important friendship over decades. What seems to be a clichéd fire-and-ice matching between Cecilia (C.C.) (Bette Midler) and Hilary (Barbara Hershey) becomes a much deeper and bittersweet pairing of two women from different social worlds (and hairstyles).

Be sure to keep in touch, C.C.. Ok?”

Well, sure. We’re friends aren’t we?

The film opens with a charismatic and downright annoying 11 year old C.C., and her bizarre lifestyle as a performer at a pier in Atlantic City. Broadway stardom is C.C.’s dream, and is evident through her extrovert though insecure soul. As one of those “steel on the outside, marshmallow on the inside” personalities, it is wonderful to see the understated and overshadowed Hilary – the intellectual of the pair – become C.C.’s strength. Hilary, a pure-bred Stanford Law School graduate, is destined for a life of paradoxical servitude at the Women’s club near her family home and fears for a bleak and unsatisfying future.

Our friendship was more important to me than anything. I trusted it. I believed in it.

Governed by her father, Hilary finds solace and an escape in the wild C.C., who lives in modern poverty. Being entirely unaware of her next successful role in a theatre play, C.C.’s only constant in her life is her communication with Hilary over the decades, and both girls interact all by letter. The two girls grow together whilst being completely apart which, of course, is a connection that only literature can describe:

The most beautiful discovery that true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart” – Elizabeth Foley.

The topic of friendship in life and in philosophy is one of the most fundamental aspects of learning about ourselves. How can we measure and better ourselves without the guidance and experience of a loving presence from outside our families? I vehemently believe that friends, second to our families, are the most important aspects in a person’s life. For, without friends – and genuine, real, true friends (ones you can count on spending the rest of your lives with) – life, love and laughter barely exists. This is exactly the case with almost every buddy film in Hollywood that has passed through our screens; very rarely can a film as resonant and poignant as Beaches stay with us.

You just happen to be the most fantastic person I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

An unforgettable film in every way, Beaches is a film with solid acting, simplistic but meaningful plot and incredibly touching values. A firm favourite of mine, this film relays what can happen when two people overcome their boundaries and restraints not only for themselves, but also for their counterpart. When –  as is customary in Hollywood movies – almost every man has failed in the female protagonists’ lives, you can be sure that both women create the kind of all-encompassing love that makes us forget about Eros, romantic love and men altogether. The commitment and dedication the two women have for each other is entirely unparalleled to their own romantic lives and, as an avid film fan, in any other friendship movie (save The Life Before Her Eyes).

You know, every time I opened one of your letters, I was happy before I even read it.”

There’s not much more I can say to hark on about Beaches but I promise you this; once you have seen it, you’ll want to hug your nearest and dearest friend. Even if you don’t, you should. Hopefully, you will at some point in time understand what Anais Nin believed:

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

Pros

  • Heartwrenching story of love between two children, which evolves into something spectacular between two young women.
  • The chemistry between Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey – one as loud and vibrant as her lion-mane ginger hair and the other as sleek and understated as you’d expect a Stanford Law graduate to be.
  • The overall message of Beaches is universal and perpetual – take care of someone you truly love enough, and one who loves you back – and that’s all you’ll ever need.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit” – Albert Schweitzer.

Cons

  • Highly (and somewhat unbelievably) melodramatic in some places, but hey. This is an 80s’ classic!

Final Verdict

8.5/10

I am glad and content to finally have posted about a film so close to my heart. A film that’s been on my mind since I was a child, I am proud to say that I have discussed and reviewed Beaches. The only problem was the risk of this piece turning into an academic endeavour; quotes and philosophy galore. I hope it will simply inspire you to go out and watch this beautiful film.

“We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence” – Joseph Roux

Beaches is a genuinely timeless exploration into what happens when you give your best to someone who deserves it. Sacrificing yourself for one who you truly believe is worth it is one of the greatest things the Prophets of all Scriptures have testified. The same is true here of Hilary and C.C. – just…less prophetic.

The best mirror is an old friend.”
George Herbert

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