Hello there! I can’t believe it’s been over two years since I’ve written on this blog. I’ve been aching to write on it again for a while now, but college has kept me preoccupied. I plan on writing on this blog more frequently because I enjoy it immensely as a creative outlet. I know I usually write about sustainability/the environment, but I want to do something a little different. I love movies and love analyzing them, so I hope you enjoy this reflection on an old favorite movie of mine, Now and Then. Thanks for reading! I promise to write more again soon.
Warning: There are some spoilers in this review, so if you care about that, you might not want to read it.
Last night, I watched a childhood favorite movie, Now and Then. I don’t think I’ve watched it since I was about 12 years old, the same age I was as the main characters in the movie. To give some background, Now and Then is about 4 girls who grew up in the small town of Shelby, Indiana who reunite as adults when Chrissy, one of the main characters, is days away from giving birth to her first child. As adults, they reflect on a transformative summer they had in the year 1970 when they were 12 years old.
Despite Now and Then having a cult following, it got poor reviews by critics. Critics say that it’s too similar to Stand By Me, that the writing is poor, and that the script is too cheesy. Albeit, I’ve never seen Stand By Me, but I think that when movies are made about the experience of growing up as a teen girl, people dismiss it as “chick-flick,” “unoriginal,” and “sitcom-like.” Now everyone is entitled to not like a movie, but I can’t help but think that the patriarchy in the movie industry has influenced the perceptions of critics. Do you know how many action movies are similar to each other? People don’t criticize action or “male-oriented” movies, the way they do movies about women. Rant aside, I believe there is so much for everyone to gain from watching this movie, young and old.
Watching this is as an adult, I felt much more of an emotional impact and understood the movie in ways that I hadn’t before. As a kid, you live in a make-believe land and have trouble accepting the harsh realities of life. This comes out in different ways throughout the movie. Roberta lost her mom when she was 4 and to cope with this tragedy, she keeps faking her death. Sam’s parents got divorced when it wasn’t common, so she keeps it a secret from her friends and immerses herself in the mysterious death of Johnny, a boy who died at 12 during 1943.
Now and Then captures that transition of being a child to being an adult in a unique way. The moment you become a girl to a woman isn’t when you get your period, but rather when you stop make-believing. The 4 girls wanted to believe that Johnny had risen from the dead, but when they found out that his tombstone was broken by accident by graveyard keeper, that was the moment they stopped believing, which was a harsh reality for them all.
One moment that stands out to me in the moment is when Sam meets “Creepy Pete” who comes out only at night. In a pivotal moment, she learns that Pete is actually Johnny’s father and that his son was brutally murdered. One of the pieces of advice that he gave Sam was that even though horrible things happen to you in life, you can’t shut out the world. As an adult, she reflects that she didn’t realize the meaning of those words until later in life.
When I watched this movie as a kid, the emotional impact of these words went completely over my head. Now that I’m older and have lived through some pretty harsh realities, I understand exactly what he means. It’s easy to believe that the world is against you and that there’s someone in the sky cursing you with awful situation after awful situation. Even if everything is going smoothly in your personal life, you can get angry at all of the suffering happening in the world. But you can’t shut the world out. Because in between the awfulness is love, family, friendship, delicious food, connecting with strangers, the simple act of getting dressed in the morning and how good that feels, feeling proud of a small accomplishment, laughter, comedy shows that almost make you pee your pants, learning that trees can talk to each other through mycelium fungus, new age music, and countless other things to live for. Life doesn’t care about timing or spacing out bad events. Life is brutal. Not everything happens for a reason and often shit just happens. But you can’t become indifferent and stop living. You have to keep working towards a better tomorrow. That tomorrow might not be tomorrow. It might not be next year. It might not be in 10 years, but as long as you keep working for it, that tomorrow of peace and tranquility you’ve been waiting for will come.
I highly recommend watching this movie. And if you watched it as a kid, watch it again as an adult, because you’ll get something new out of it.