Hilary (Barbara Hershey) and CC Bloom (Bette Midler)

* * *

Beaches (1988) is about being ‘unlucky in love’ – not an apt choice to watch on this Rose Day, February 7 – nevertheless Beaches may be an alternative choice from the usual Valentine week offerings. Beaches is alternative viewing for those disillusioned by the sweet aroma of thorny roses as well as saying something interesting about—beaches.

The key characters, in Beaches, throw themselves at the men in their lives. But once CC Bloom (Bette Midler) is advancing in her acting and singing career John (John Heard) feels left behind and divorces her. You are left feeling sorry for CC. Hilary (Barbara Hershey) marries lawyer Michael Essex (James Read) but when Hilary spies on her man having an intimate moment with another woman in their house that is the end of her marriage. Poor Hilary.

CC and Hilary would wish for better it seems, and the film hinges on messy situations palatably presented, but the enduring appeal of Beaches is its resonant theme of enduring friendship, between two people who are opposites.

CC and Hilary have that kind of friendship that one admires from personal experience or from afar, all done with a rather sentimental flavour that warms you up for a healthy dose of emotion by the end.

To have such a positive response to their friendship was unthinkable at first. An unbelievable friendship between a rich sensible girl and a poor boisterous girl might have never come off.

Fluffy pen pal correspondence in their teens and Hilary surprisingly dropping into CC’s seems unconvincing.

But through cancer and heartache, they stick together, which eventually pays off for the viewer.

Midler and Hershey in the key roles do their stuff well. Midler and Hershey are so malleable and weave their way into your system.

Occasionally, I think a seriously foul word went past, but I cannot remember for sure and Garry’s Marshall’s direction could have done with more of a polish in more ways than one.

Although this bitter-sweet story is not the perfect catharsis for Rose Day blues, it is still a tribute to good friendships, one which begins and continues at the beach.

Based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart. Film released December 21, 1988.

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