5 January 2009 | blanche-2
Very funny and evocative of the '80s
Everybody is "Desperately Seeking Susan," but nobody realizes they're not looking for the same person in this 1985 quirky comedy starring Roseanna Arquette, Madonna, Aidan Quinn, and Laurie Metcalf. The film was directed by Susan Seidelman from a script by Leora Barish.
In this very clever story, Roberta (Arquette) is a bored housewife with a rich fantasy life who envies a woman named Susan (Madonna). Susan's boyfriend is always leaving her notes in the personals column about where to meet. Before long, Roberta is showing up at the meeting places and actually starts stalking Susan. When Susan pays for a pair of boots that she wants with her unique leather jacket, Roberta buys it and starts wearing it. All this could have been harmless fun except for three things: 1) Susan is a con artist, and she's stolen Egyptian artifacts she mistook for earrings from a guy in Atlantic City, who ended up dead at the bottom of his hotel; 2) Susan was seen (from the back) wearing her jacket in the hallway of the hotel by a mobster who wants the artifacts; and 3) Roberta is in an accident, and when she wakes up, she has amnesia. A friend (Aidan Quinn) of Susan's boyfriend who came to the meeting place to check on the real Susan as a favor thinks Roberta is Susan.
This is such a fun movie, with much of the comedy being in the situation rather than in the dialogue. Not only that, it's totally '80s, right down to Madonna's leggings, and brought back a lot of great memories.
The acting is very good, and one wonders why Madonna didn't continue in this vein rather than trying to become a great dramatic actress. She's perfect in this off-beat role as well as being beautiful, exotic, trashy, and sexy. She also would have been excellent as Roxy in "Chicago" if the film had been made back in the '70s, when it was originally supposed to be done. She might then have had a very interesting film career.
Though "Desperately Seeking Susan" was made 23 years ago, Roseanna Arquette hasn't changed much. She's excellent as the quiet, dying to be free, fantasy-driven Roberta. Aidan Quinn gives his usual good performance as a poor sap over his head. He doesn't know how lucky he is - he could have gotten involved with the real Susan! Highly recommended, especially if you were a young adult in the '80s.