A homage to the spirit of the imagination and rejection of the norms of society - the main characters transcend the oppressive structures of the 1950's and seem almost contemporary transcending gender rolls and expectations- charming, poignant and poetic
This is an explicitly female story about the way women's nonconformity has always been pathologized and the anxiety/fear/trauma that creates if you are a woman that does not know how/is incapable of conforming. This isn't about ~rejecting American society~ it is specifically about women. It matters that the main characters are women. It matters that the antagonist of the story is a man. This film is about women.
A song in praise of eccentricity that depicts conformity as slavery and spiritual death. The ending, fleeing into darkness from the kindly old local policeman (this is one of the few American films that show how sinister such a character can be) is a perfect illustration of Thoreau's "If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life."
I want a Criterion version of this film. Not only is it visually outstanding, it's probably the only movie about women in the '50s that made me completely forget it was about women in the '50s. People who think crap like "The Hours" make some kind of poignant feminist statement should be required by law to watch it. Should I say "criminally underrated"? Probably. One of my all-time favorites in a walk.