Mask | Chicago Reader

Mask

An unabashed, Capra-esque tearjerker from Peter Bogdanovich, about a 15-year-old boy (Eric Stoltz) afflicted with a rare disease that has caused his skull to thicken to twice the normal size. The first half of the film is descriptive and anecdotal, as Bogdanovich tries to suggest how normal and healthy the boy is despite his disease and his somewhat unorthodox mother, a free-living member of a motorcycle gang (Cher). The second half turns to accelerated narrative as the boy is rapidly elevated to sainthood: in a double plot that would probably leave Capra himself aghast, Stoltz guilts his mother into giving up her dependency on drugs (which cements her relationship with handsome biker Sam Elliott), while he himself carries on a wistful romance with a blind girl. The film's undeniable impact comes from Bogdanovich's willingness to go too far with practically every emotional moment, while maintaining a distant, classical visual style that gives the film a surface dignity and reserve. It's hardly Bogdanovich's most honorable achievement, but it is certainly his most open and accessible effort. With Richard Dysart, Laura Dern, and Harry Carey Jr.

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