Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Friend to Die For (1994 TV Film)

"I never really liked her..."

This is one of those things I would never have seen if not for my wife who, bizarrely, has fond childhood memories of this rather serious and weighty drama! It's a quality work, though- well scripted, shot and acted, and a serious treatment of some weighty themes without sensationalism. It's just s pity that the only available DVD lacks subtitles.

The names are changed, but this is based on a real murder from 1984 in which a popular and bitchy cheerleader- essentially Cordelia from early Buffy and a familiar trope of American high school drama- is murdered by a jealous classmate. The film questions the hierarchies in such places, where the popular ones always seem to come from money and popularity always has to involve bullying those who don't fit in.

I'm a foreigner, but I've always found cheerleading creepy, a disturbing cult and blatantly sexist. And don't get me started on sororities, fraternities and those stupid, awful-looking jackets that the popular boys wear. But here we have a principal who, true to Reaganomics, exhorts his teenage students to "be the best" and praises survival of the fittest and to Hell with the weak. The priest may may question the role of capitalist 1080s values in this murder, but he flat out refuses to consider it. This is a mitder that arises out of a complex interplay of class, gender and hierarchy. 

The whole thing is brilliantly structured, starting with the murder itself from an outsider's perspective, then turning to the perspective of Angie, the killer, up to and beyond the murder itself, and then towards the community itself and an unnecessary show trial which echoes The Scarlet Letter. It may be obscure, but this is worth seeing.

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