In the mid 1980s, Director Peter Bogdonavich brought us the tender true story of a mother and son, played by Cher and Eric Stoltz in the film Mask.
Cher plays Florence aka Rusty, a drug-addicted biker mama who dutifully dotes on her son Rocky (Stoltz) who has a rare disease that has caused his head to be in the shape of a lion.
Based on the real story of Rocky Dennis, Bogdonavich wanted to show the young man’s spirit in the face of his deformities.
Rocky is happily accepted by his Mum’s biker family, but at school he is treated with ignorance and fear. But its his intelligence and charm wins over his fellow students and he becomes a tutor, gaining friends and acceptance.
The school principal encourages Rocky to take a summer job as a counsellor, thinking it will be good for younger kids to be around him as well as to gain him so independence from his biker home life.
At camp, he meets Diana (Laura Dern), a blind girl who we falls in love with, but is blocked from maintaining a relationship due to her parents’ overprotective ways. Meanwhile his best buddy decides to move, ending their dream of biking across Europe.
Rocky’s journey seems to teach everyone more about themselves, sharing those gains and losses of getting older and becoming responsible. The touching revelations of stereotypes are broken down such as viewers being taught about acceptance by bikers.
Both Cher and Stoltz were nominated for Golden Globe Awards for best acting for this film, and when released in 1985, the film easily kept people in seats, earning almost $50 million at the box office.
And for viewers, this film showed us our vulnerabilities, and how we all create a mask around us, sometime revealed. For a decade known for its exuberant over the top excess, this film was a quiet reminder of what life really means.