One long, hot summer in seventies London, Holly and Marina make a childhood pact to be friends forever. For the troubled, unpredictable Marina, with her seemingly glamorous father and her Valium-addicted mother, Holly stays the only constant in a life of divorcing parents, experimental drugs and fashionable self-destruction. Meanwhile, Holly buries herself in books out of feelings of frustration with her over-protective mother and a nagging insecurity around her beautiful and possessive best friend. She holds just one secret from Marina, her increasing passion for Marina's brother Nat. As the years roll by, the girls experience everything life has to offer, sex, love, loss and rock 'n roll. But eventually for Holly, a friendship which has never been equal gradually begins to feel like a trap.
Before watching this, I had one of those "what was I thinking?" moments. You know, the one where you have no idea why you picked this movie, other than I was (am)a fan of "Dawson's Creek" and Michelle Williams is in it, but not sure if that was really strong enough motivation to see it through. It could have been some artsy type of film that I would absolutely end up hating, for all I knew. After waiting about a week, I decided to watch this movie anyway.
As the description mentions, we first meet the girls in London in the early 70's, who as neighbors have become the bestest of girlfriends while dealing with their parents and their individual insecurities. Marina is the undisputed leader of the two, always talking Holly into joining her in some crazy plan, mostly so boredom doesn't drive her crazy, and because she rather loves being the center of attention. She seems oblivious to Holly's growing crush on her older brother Nat, until later, while they are in their teens and it appears Nat may return some of Holly's feelings. Marina immediately feels threatened, possibly feeling that she'll lose the affection of both Holly and Nat if they are allowed to grow closer, so Marina does her best to keep them apart, encouraging her brother to go after his former girlfriend and work things out with her.
Years pass, and now both girls are in college, and living together as flatmates. Marina loves to party, and enjoys hooking up for casual sexual encounters with no real thought of a serious commitment. It isn't until Holly shows a strong interest in an older man that Marina begins to feel once again like someone will take Holly's affection away from her, and she goes after him herself, manipulating the situation to make it seem like Holly is the one trying to steal her man. While this is going on, Nat arrives on their doorstep, and those previously forgotten feelings Holly had for her best friend's brother re-surface. But once again, Marina manages to twist everything so that instead of exploring the attraction between them, Holly and Nat each go their separate ways instead of talking to each other and confessing how they feel.
Fast forward yet again, and this time we see a calmer Marina dating a wonderful man who truly loves her for herself, and she finally seems to be settling down. But even when her own life seems to be going so well, she cannot stop herself from interfering in Holly's life, making sure that Holly remains unhappy and dependent upon her. Holly finally reaches the point where she feels so suffocated by her best friend that she knows she must leave her if she is ever to have any hope for happiness.
Honestly, I actually enjoyed this movie very much, even watched it twice. Michelle Williams is wonderful as Holly, somewhat innocent yet weary, independent yet lonely, always in the shadow of her best friend. Michelle has this sweet, cherubic face that works so well with the more naive side of her character, yet you can also see a growing frustration inside of her, stemming mostly from anger at Marina for making her feel ugly and useless, but also because of the anger she feels towards herself for not standing up for herself. She takes the easy way out, and it has made her unhappy for a long, long time. She's tired of it.
It seemed inevitable that Holly would grow up crushing on her best friend's brother, and it could have been a complete disappointment, but instead I found it to be complicated and sad and wonderful. The interaction between Holly and Nat is poignant and sweet, going back to Holly's crush on Nat when she was just a young girl, as well as Nat's fascination with her when he finally starts to notice her as a woman. His unexpected, tender feelings for her just don't conveniently go away.
I didn't expect to like Marina as much as I did. She wasn't hateful and cruel, just selfish and insecure, and I truly felt she cared deeply for Holly, needed her even, she just couldn't bear to see anyone happier than she was. Some people are just like that.
So all in all, I'm pleased that I watched it. I would definitely rent it again, maybe even buy it.
Rating: **** out of *****
Have you ever had a crush on one of your brother's friends?
Ever date him?
Good idea or bad one?