Monday, 9 November 2015

In Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married, the titular character, a middle-aged mother of two, is transported back to her youth after collapsing on stage at her high-school reunion. She lives a past tense life in her new present, tackling all the issues that seem important to a sixteen year old girl in high school with the life-experience of an adult. One afternoon, her mother asks how her day at school was, and she replies: "oh, well, it was nice to see everybody again." Then the phone rings, and Peggy answers to hear the voice of her grandmother, a woman who, in Peggy's real present of the mid-1980s, would have died a long time ago. As ready as she was to face boys, cheerleading practice, and the social hierarchy of high-school, she wasn't expecting this - so she freezes. There's no mention of Peggy Sue's grandparents before this moment, and the complexion of the film shifts suddenly from comedy to tragedy. Coppola covers the hallway in shadow, at odds with the sun-kissed idyll of previous spaces, and introduces a low-key piano melody. Peggy runs up the stairs, and her mother, bemused, follows after her. She tells her mother that she dreamt that her grandmother died, which isn't true, but the real reason would make no sense. "I love her so much," she says, "and I haven't seen her in so long." The untroubled freedom of her youth disappears for a moment, painfully reminding her of everything she has lost. But the unique situation she's in affords her the opportunity to make it right - and that's what makes Peggy Sue Got Married so beautiful. It's not a film about reliving the glory days. Rather, it's about coming to terms with the pains and regrets of her past.

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