Baby It’s You (1983)

“We’re not in high school anymore!”

Baby It's You Poster

Synopsis:
An aspiring lounge singer (Vincent Spano) pursues an aspiring actress (Rosanna Arquette) in high school, and they embark upon a rocky relationship. When Jill (Arquette) enters college and Sheik (Spano) heads to Miami, however, their differences are accentuated even further.

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Review:
This character-driven film by independent director John Sayles is a realistic, often uncomfortable look at the difficulties inherent in cross-class romances. Jewish, upper-middle-class Jill and Italian, working-class “Sheik” couldn’t be more different, yet Jill is intrigued by Sheik’s tenacity, and Sheik is — for some reason — convinced that Jill is the love of his life. As in Alan J. Pakula’s The Sterile Cuckoo, Jill and Spano ultimately want different things out of their budding romance: Jill (like Jerry in Cuckoo) simply goes along with the experience, while the desperate Sheik (Pookie’s counterpart) is obsessed with holding on at all costs.

Many reviewers have complained about Sayles’ unorthodox choice to follow Jill and Sheik beyond high school — yet Sayles has never been one to stick to conventional narrative arcs, and his choice is an effective one here. Baby It’s You isn’t meant to be a happily-ever-after teen romance between two unlikely souls — instead, it succinctly demonstrates the ways in which love can be blind, sex doesn’t necessarily correlate with love, and life rarely wraps itself up neatly in a bow.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Rosanna Arquette’s remarkably natural performance as Jill
  • Vincent Spano as the tenacious Sheik
  • An effective portrayal of the difficulties inherent in cross-class romance

Must See?
Yes, simply for Arquette’s stand-out performance. Peary lists this film in the back of his book as both a Cult Movie and a Personal Recommendation.

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One Response to “Baby It’s You (1983)”

  1. A must – tho a more enthusiastic one for younger ffs. I saw it on its release, in my late 20s, so I was still young enough to be able to relate more closely to the feelings of the protagonists.

    Seeing it again after all these years (I don’t think I’ve seen it since its release), I have more appreciation for the second half of the film (so, therefore, take issue with those reviewers who have complained about it). While the first part adequately shows how messy high school can be emotionally (which is very real here, tho less interesting dramatically), it’s the more powerful second half that marvelously captures that awkward period of “I’ve kind of moved on but not completely, and still have residual feelings for what I’ve moved on from.”

    That said, I still feel younger ffs will get more out of the movie overall. (They certainly have an almost-non-stop, popular song soundtrack to enjoy while watching. While I like the songs used, I felt a little sledgehammered by the constant use of music – which, at times, makes the script seem like something added on, and lends the film a bit of over-use of montage, etc.)

    Speaking of the script, I esp. like its more surprisingly natural moments, and there are many. However, while Spano’s parents (and his attitude toward his father) are captured believably, I don’t quite get why Arquette is so bitchy toward hers when they seem to genuinely deserve more respect than she gives them.

    The line quoted here for the assessment (“We’re not in high school anymore!”) is, I think, Arquette’s personal best moment.

    Note: While the comparison with ‘The Sterile Cuckoo’ works, I kept thinking of the Minnelli/De Niro dynamic in ‘New York, New York’.

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