My original plan for this week was to catch up on all of the Agnès Varda that I have sitting on my shelf unwatched. I did watch her first film, La Pointe Courte, but I’m going to wait to discuss that film until next week when I can do a fuller picture of Varda’s work. I did thankfully watch a second film by a woman this week. I do a monthly film club with a group of coworkers that jumps through different themes, and this month the chosen film happened to be directed by a woman.
Now and Then (Lesli Linka Glatter, 1995)
While I was around the appropriate age for this film when it came out, I never saw or heard of it. The early to mid-90s were filled Stand by Me clones, and this one did not reach any screens I watched. I’ll admit that having been socialized male may have had something to do with that, but the film does blend in well with the glut of similar films. Or at least it would if it wasn’t for the female presence that does leave it an outlier.
Every other pre-teen adventure movie that came out in the decade following Stand by Me tried to replicate the feeling exactly, to the extent of keeping the all-male cast. Now and Then while falling into many of the pit traps of the other clones, choses to focus on a group of girls instead of boys. This decision allows the characters to develop more emotionally than many of the similar pictures. Glatter didn’t need to worry about isolating her audience with these emotions because she was targeting a female audience instead of a male one.
Unfortunately, the refreshing focus on girls instead of boys wasn’t accompanied by a good script nor exquisite direction. Between the stilted dialogue and disjoint plot, Now and Then failed to deliver as the female answer to Stand by Me. Lesli Linka Glatter only went on to make one more film, but she does have director credits on many highly acclaimed TV shows to her name. I choose to assume that she was just the victim of a poor screenplay in tired genre. While it was a pleasure to see a female twist on a familiar film, the stumble in execution leaves Now and Then’s legacy as a misfire.