Love in the Eyes of Connie
Smooth Talk is a story that highlights the darkness that lies between man and evil. Arnold Friend is portrayed as the devil, while Connie as the seducer of man. Circe, a mythical goddess of magic underlines the importance of understanding the similarities of Arnold Friend and Connie. The setting of Connie’s house is an important symbol. Connie’s house lies in a wooded area, where there is no one living close by.
The house portrays the heartache and what is believed to be Connie’s cursed life. Connie’s home is the outline of her sorrows and downfall in life. This is an allusion to Circe’s living in a mansion that stands in the middle of a wooded area. The depiction of the woods suggests that it is a place of no return. For example, when Arnold Friend tries to talk his way into getting Connie out, he traps her emotionally that she surrenders to his will.
Also, the woods chain her to the purpose of Arnold Friend, where Connie will lose her innocence to him and will be his forever. Therefore, Arnold Friend will be part of Connie, as evil is part of society. The woods embody Arnold Friend’s personal hell for Connie and dominance over her. The location of Connie’s house in the middle of nowhere frames the doubts of whether or not she is truly innocent or has always wanted to find a man that wanted her so badly and captured her completely. Circe is describing as the “loveliest of all immortals” in the Odyssey, similar to how Connie is described in the movie to be the cutest girl in the freshman class. Connie’s beauty is a depiction of her natural intentions of luring man into her control.
She oozes vulnerability and an angel- like beauty that make men fall in love with her. Yet Connie never truly commits herself to any of the boys at her school, she just likes the game of being chased. When I read the story in the book, I felt sympathy for Connie because she was young and sweet. The movie gave me another view into Connie’s true self. Therefore, Connie is to be blamed for Arnold Friend’s vulgarity.
Also, after the supposed rape, Connie does not seem that disturbed and upset, but dances the situation away with her sister June. Moreover, the hamburger place captures the similarity that Connie and Arnold Friend have in luring the opposite sex into their control. For example, Arnold Friend uses the woods, whereas Connie practices her flirtatious act to advance her seductions in the mall and the hamburger joint. These two places are Connie’s way of turning man into her form of puppet show and she pulls the strings through teasing them into chasing her. Arnold Friend personifies a nymph or a witch. He drives to Connie’s house with a ridiculous car and poses himself as a young bad boy with a James Dean- like outfit.
Arnold Friend symbolizes the darkness within society of man, where girls grow up too young. Additionally, Arnold Friend uses the magic of his words to pull her to his car without any physical force. This shows the dynamism of Arnold Friends hold over females similar to Circe over man. Arnold Friend represents the dark attraction that appeals to Connie. For example, in the movie the poster of James Dean hanging on the wall of Connie‘s bedroom wall is a symbol of her attraction to bad boys and her appeal to the mystery side of them.
Also the poster is a foreshadowing of the unfortunate encounter she will have with Arnold Friend. As a result, Arnold Friend plays on the idea of depicting himself like the character of James Dean to lure Connie to him. Arnold Friend acts and dresses like him, he even approaches her in a 1960s convertible. The car could symbolize his power over Connie and trapping her in his plan of smooth talking his way into getting her to get into his car. This shows that Arnold Friend’s confidence in approaching Connie at her house and at the hamburger joint shows that this is not his first time he involved himself with a younger girl. Arnold Friend represents the devil within the movie, which knows everything about her and has been watching over her like a hovering darkness waiting for his moment to steal her innocence, when Arnold Friend confides to her “I’m watching you!” in the movie.
The movie display of vulgarity within the movie illustrates the characters true feelings. This is shown when Connie uses vulgar slang to describe the attracting appearance of the male butts that she purposely gawks in the mall, suggesting that the Connie is not that innocent. Throughout the movie Connie shows a sexual frustration of male’s interaction with her. For example, she desires for males attention to her body and she flaunts herself sexually, but she does not like males acting physically with her, where a contradiction is seen. As the movie progresses, Connie’s language changes from a defensive vulnerable girl to a flirtatious tease back to a victim. In the middle to last scene of the movie Arnold Friend says “I ain’t late, am I?” is the first thing he says to her when she opens the screen door.
Instead of being fearful of her safety that a strange man with a loud music drove in front of her house, she is curious about him and checks herself in the mirror to see if she looks good. Though she is a naive fifteen-year old teenager, there is much more maturity to her when dealing with the opposite sex. Furthermore, the more Arnold Friend continues his talk with Connie, the more he reveals his knowledge of her and what his intentions are. “I..
. found out all about you like I know your parents and sister are gone somewhere and I know where and how long they’re going to be gone, and I know who you were with last night…” (Movie Smooth Talk). Arnold Friends stalking is triggered by Connie seductive character that causes his interest in her.
His knowledge and stalking sets fear to Connie to run back into the house. In this scene, Connie goes to a corner to create a distance between her and Arnold. As she sits in the corner she holds the phone and tells him that she will call the cops. Here she transforms into a small little girl who is calling out to her mom to save her. The corner is a representation of the punishment for being a naughty girl and going out in the night lying to her mom about her whereabouts. In the movie Connie has a hard time accepting religion as her savior because she is more torn to the dark side, which she feels is exciting.
It could be because she endured a life-long put downs from her mother and had to listen to the praises given to her older sister June. Therefore, she might feel that the only other way she is able to express herself is through rebellious acts. The fact she does not receive the motherly affection and relationship, she seeks it from the attention boys give her. Connie feels that the only way she will be noticed by her mother is when she is acting up. There is a moment in the movie where Connie gives her mother a hand in painting the house, showing a sign of remorse and love for her mother, but it all goes wrong as her mother tries to befriend her.
Connie purposely pulls away from her mother; in reality she is pulling from God and goodness. During a date, Connie drives off with a boy, at this time Arnold Friend tells her he is watching her, the date turns into a heavy petting, and before anything happens she leaves. This is a relation of Connie’s purity stained with lustful act. The director did this to show the audience that Connie has the capability to give herself away, yet a fear of losing her entire being fully.