Plot: A cunning and resourceful housewife vows revenge on her husband when he begins an affair with a wealthy romance novelist.
A few weekends ago, I went for a 30th anniversary screening of The Breakfast Club. 97 minutes of eternal gingespiration and pouty goddess Molly Ringwald and her band of teenage tearaways spending a boring Saturday in detention. I hadn’t seen it since staying up late one night in my early teens to watch it on the fuzzy, tiny screened TV in my room. I love the 80s. I want to spend an eternity dancing to Pat Benatar, watching The Golden Girls and backcombing my hair.
When it came to choosing the next Meryl film, it had to be from the hallowed decade of bleached jeans and scrunchies. Sophie’s Choice, Silkwood, A Cry in the Dark: all stunners and all from the 80s. I’d had a decent run of good Meryl films though, so I decided to go for a lesser known title. You probably haven’t heard of She Devil, just as I hadn’t until I started this project. It’s notable for being her first comedic role (if you don’t count her turn in Manhattan), but there is a reason why it has been lost in an ocean of middling 80s comedies. This isn’t Meryl’s film, this is a star vehicle for Roseanne Barr who had just wrapped filming the first season of her eponymous TV show. While she can be funny, I don’t know if watching one of her films would be my first choice on how to spend an evening.
Bob: “I guess you’ve got to have a very vivid imagination to write these romance novels, doncha?”
Mary Fisher: “Yes I do, *smashes glass into the fireplace* but I also do a lot of … research”
The film itself is pretty bloody surreal. Meryl’s character of a Barbara Taylor Bradford / Danielle Steel / Jackie Collins hybrid is pure camp, with a hint of an early incarnation of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. Her world of unpronounceable french cuisine, satin bedsheets, and sweeping staircases to make grand entrances from ramp up the camp factor even more. Her world of soft pastels proves to be irresistible to businessman Bob, luring him away from Roseanne’s character of Ruth.
When Mary Fisher’s world starts falling down around her thanks to her blabbermouth of an elderly mother and Roseanne’s character Ruth founding a women-only recruitment agency (yes, really), watching the cracks start to form on her perfectly presented public image make the film enjoyable enough to warrant a watch.