Movie Review: Mask (1985)

Starring: Cher, Eric Stoltz, Sam Elliot and Laura Dern

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

This is the inspirational real-life story of Rocky Dennis, a teenager who suffers a facial deformity called “lionitis”. He’s such an intelligent and humerus individual who faces constant ridicule but his story shows how he has to deal with and overcome the prejudices he faces.

I’d like to start this blog post off by telling you how I came about watching Mask. My wife (Abbey) was getting excited for the forthcoming release of Mamma Mia 2 which is now featuring Cher. I rolled my eyes at the inclusion of Cher and may have said “you make it sound like a good thing that she’s in it”. This was a few weeks back and forgot all about my criticism of Cher until I got home from work this evening and Abbey had the DVD ready and waiting.

All I can say is, how wrong was I? My initial criticism of Cher was made in haste and was unfair. She was absolutely tremendous in her role as Rusty Dennis, the mother of Rocky. She was a fiery character who had nothing but her sons best interests at heart and despite all the drug abuse throughout her life she still had the purest of intentions. As much as this movie is about Rocky Dennis, it’s also about his Mum who deep down is scared to death of losing her son, who the doctors say is already on borrowed time, but she has to put on an act that’s she’s the stereotypical tough biker chick that can deal with anything and anyone, this is her mask.

Rocky Dennis is played by Eric Stoltz who, just like Cher, produces a magnificent display of acting. Everything about his character and the way he played him was just perfect. Rocky was intelligent, humorous, charming and could also be a little hot headed at times and Stoltz delivered each emotion brilliantly. Throughout his life Rocky has to deal with people staring, judging, laughing and making fun of him because of his appearance on the outside rather than taking the time to learn who he is on the inside.

One of the main things I loved about this movie, besides the performances by Cher and Stoltz, was the relationship Rocky had with the biker gang that he and his mother hung round with. The way they were so accepting and protective of Rocky truly was heartwarming. When Rocky was graduating middle school the whole gang felt like proud fathers especially Gar (played by Sam Elliot). Sam Elliot was great in his performance and really contributed to the way Rocky was able to express himself openly.

Another performance that was truly dazzling was that of Laura Dern, her role was quite small but extremely important at the same time. She played Diana, a blind girl who Rocky assisted while they were away at camp together. For the first time in his life Rocky could be free in knowing that Diana would not judge him or make any disparaging remarks about him. It was a fresh start Rocky needed to be able to meet a girl and get himself a girlfriend. Their chemistry together on screen was outstanding and the scene where Rocky helped teach Diana colours was truly lump in the throat stuff.

Everything about Mask was perfect. The acting was great by everybody involved and the story was heart warming and fantastically told.


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