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Stand by Me (1986) | Film Review

by Dimitra Karagiannopoulou

I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no, I won’t shed a tear Just as long as you stand, stand by me.

Every time I promise myself that I will not cry and every time... I cry! For everyone there is this one film, which, although you know the end, you cannot fail to watch again and which evokes exactly the same feelings of joy and sadness as it did the first time. In my case, this film is Stand by Me.

Based on Stephen King’s novella The Body, Rob Reiner's film, received its title from Ben E. King's song of the same name, which is played during the end credits. The film tells the adventure of four children in the summer of 1959 in a small Oregon town called Castle Rock. The four friends embark on a journey to discover the body of a missing child in their quest to become heroes. Within 48 hours, they pass green areas of Oregon, train lines, lakes filled with leeches and vast meadows until they find the child's corpse. Throughout the journey, there is no shortage of teasing and discussions about ‘burning’ issues, such as whether Goofy is a dog or not, but they also confess their fears and worries – well-kept secrets that only good friends can understand.

courtesy of Wikipedia

Somewhere between the rock 'n' roll nostalgia of the 50s and the dark innocence of the 80s, Reiner, in his third directorial attempt, succeeds in a masterful way to capture the sense of childlike purity, loss, and stigma that a small provincial town can bring. The performances of the lead cast are truly exceptional, with Phoenix turning into a teenage idol overnight. He portrays Chris, the leader of the gang, whose future in illegality is predetermined and he knows it himself. However, he still desperately wants to escape from Castle Rock and go to a place where no one knows him. Equally wonderfully emotionally raw is Wheaton's performance as Gordi, who is trying to overcome his brother's sudden death and the indifference of his parents. Special mention should also be made of Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the hardened leader of a gang of older children fighting over who will find the child’s corpse first. At the same time, the music of the film, with well-known songs of the 50s and the beloved all time classic Stand By Me, transports us from childhood carefreeness to the abominable truth of an adulthood made from the remnants of a childhood that ends abruptly once you feel ready to overcome your fears.

Stand by Me is a great and authentic coming-of-age drama film. A movie that both romanticises and demystifies the past. A film that reminds us of the friends we met over the years, some of which were just passers-by and others who stayed by our side.


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