Illustration: Adeline Pericart
Blisters on your shoulders, sand in your underwear, coughing up seawater and being packed into a caravan with the entire extended family – the sweet, sweet memories of summer’s past. Thank God we have film to look back on with pleasure. And so the Film Ireland sun lovers lay down their towels, unwrap a Cornetto and recall their favourite summer films in the latest installment of We Love… Summer. Gemma Creagh Stand by Me.
Now lash on the sunblock…
Stand by Me
In my many years of consuming films, I had somehow managed to avoid watching Stand By Me. This ‘We Love… Summer’ was the perfect excuse to catch the iconic classic, so one lazy hungover Saturday, I strolled down to my local Xtravision and rented their dusty copy. Laden with Ben and Jerry’s and relatively low expectations, I popped the DVD in the player and let Rob Reiner’s beautiful film unfold on front of me.
My aforementioned low expectations were because I had been burned recently; the other evening I caught Terminator 2, and although good, it just didn’t hold up to how I remembered it. Also I had caught Rob Reiner’s latest film Flipped, and dear god, what a horrendous piece of cinema that was.
But I was very pleasantly surprised; Stand By Me is simply gorgeous, and – apart from the horrendous computer at the end – hasn’t dated an iota. This coming-of-age story of friendship and adventure sits nicely in the aesthetically stunning, small-town America of the 1950s. The themes, tone and performances hold up as strong today as they did in 1986, in fact much more so, as we are currently living in the era of bland, unimaginative Hollywood drivel.
River Phoenix is an actor so talented, he brings depth and charisma to scenes as basic as crossing the road, wordlessly eating a sandwich or casually picking his nose. Stand By Me also features a host of young and familiar faces, John Cusack and Kiefer Sutherland but the very best is Jerry O’Connell as Vernon ‘Vern’ Tessio – if you don’t know who he is, go IMDB him; he’s not so chubby and nerdy now.
Along with a long line of other films, Stand By Me proves undeniably, that films based on Stephen King’s stories can be exceptionally better than his writing in the first place. Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans did great work in creating a rich, well-structured and gripping story, which touches on dark and adult themes, such as social class and child abuse, in a sensitive and authentic way. So kudos Rayce(or Brunald?).
So as the credits rolled and I tearfully shoveled that last spoon of chocolate fudge brownie into my mouth, I swore to call every last one of my old school chums from my younger years – and also to give Jack Bauer a swift kick in the cojones the next time I saw him.