Smooth Talk (1985)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Produced for PBS's American Playhouse series, Smooth Talk was given a brief theatrical release before its "official" February 9, 1987 TV debut. Laura Dern plays a teenager anxious to experience the pleasures of sexual contact. Left alone in the family summer cottage when her mother (Mary Kay Place), father (Levon Helm) and sister (Elizabeth Berridge) go shopping, Dern decides to wander into town for male companionship. She makes the acquaintance of Treat Williams, a handsome if mildly psychotic type who identifies himself as "A. Friend" and behaves like James Dean. When she returns home, Dern is bewildered and dishevelled. We can only speculate as to whether or not she was raped by Williams; we do know that she isn't the same person we met at the beginning of the film. Smooth Talk was based on a 1970 short story by Joyce Carol Oates entitled "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"
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Laura Dern
as Connie
Treat Williams
as Arnold Friend
Mary Kay Place
as Katherine
Levon Helm
as Harry
Geoff Hoyle
as Ellie
Cab Covay
as Pickup Driver
Joy Carlin
as Laura's Mother
Mark McKay
as Bobby King
Carl Mueller
as Mall Boy
David O'Neill
as Mall Boy
Craig Caddell
as Mall Boy
Gary Harris
as Mall Creep
Darian Alioto
as Mall Creep
Sally Schuab
as Saleslady
William Desmond
as Laura's Dad
Rob Blair
as Beach Boy
Edgar Kahn
as Beach Boy
Spenser Mains
as Eddie's Friend
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Critic Reviews for Smooth Talk

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (2)

The movie is almost uncanny in its self-assurance, in the way it knows that the first hour, where 'nothing' happens, is necessary if the payoff is to be tragic, instead of merely sensational.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Plays uncomfortably like two movies jammed into one.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Disregard the incoherent ending, which violates the source material (Joyce Carol Oates story): in her debut, Chopra has made a disturbing tale of sexual awakening set against the 1980s new context of shopping malls; Laura Dern is extraordinary as the lead

Full Review… | February 8, 2007

Despite the less-than-riveting vibe, it's impossible to deny Dern's amazing performance.

Full Review… | December 6, 2004
Reel Film Reviews

Offers ample and telling observations on adolescence, mother-daughter relationships, familial tensions, and the erotic yearnings of youth.

Full Review… | August 18, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

An unheralded gem of a motion picture, and one of the more vibrant and authentic depictions of teenage life in memory.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999

Audience Reviews for Smooth Talk


Somewhat brutally honest at times, Smooth Talk is about a sixteen year old girl who is falling in love with older boys, while falling out of love with her family. The film depicts a strained mother-daughter relationship; I have two sister, and this film gets it spot on. There is a a dark side to these boys that you are made aware of in the first scene, subtle at times but when you realize it, you can't help getting creeped-out.

Keating Tufts
Keating Tufts

Laura Dern is interesting in this coming of age tale, despite being WAAY to old to be the 15 yr old that she's meant to be playing. She spends her days ignoring her mother and household chores, instead spending her time at the mall trying to get noticed by boys, only to eventually draw the attention of a much older man, played by Treat Williams, who watches her from afar, sizing her up as she deals with the boys her age, then finally makes his move. The ambiguous ending may put off some, but I enjoy it and think it might stand up to repeated viewings to see if other details color your own opinion of what actually happens. Give it a rental, see what you think.

Bill Bryant
Bill Bryant

I was expecting this to be a fun 80's teen movie, so I got a bit of a shock by the turn it actually took. One of the most chilling and believable films I have seen about being a teenager. The silly girls in this really rang true to some of the girls I grew up with in the 80's and I was really impressed with Laura Dern. I wonder why it wasn't more well known, I had actually never heard of this until recently, and I love 80's films, particularly the teen variety. I don't remember anything about this from when I was growing up. Perhaps it was more popular over in the US. Well worth a look for anyone who likes this genre, who, like me, may have missed out on it first time around.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

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