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Filmmaker Susan Seidelman established her distinctive vision of New York City with this crackling debut feature, the lo-fi original for her vibrant portraits of women reinventing themselves. After escaping New Jersey, the quintessentially punk Wren (Susan Berman)—a spark plug in torn fishnets and a plastic houndstooth miniskirt—moves to the city with the mission of becoming famous (“I just wanna be in a swimming pool, eating tacos and signing autographs …that’s all.”).
“Ragged, funny and eccentric … gives us a punk screen heroine with wit, style and nerve.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times
When not pasting up self-promotional flyers or hanging at the Peppermint Lounge, she’s getting involved with Paul (Brad Rinn), the nicest guy to ever live in a van next to the highway, and Eric (Richard Hell, lead singer of iconic punk band, The Voidoids), an aloof rocker. Shot on 16 mm film that captures the grit and glam of downtown NYC in the 1980s, with an alternately moody and frenetic punk soundtrack by the Feelies and others, Smithereens—the first American independent film to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes—is a gloriously funky, unfaded snapshot of a bygone era, as well as a thrilling low-budget calling card for director Seidelman, who hit the Hollywood big time with her very next feature, Desperately Seeking Susan, starring Rosanna Arquette and Madonna. (Dir. by Susan Seidelman, 1982, USA, 93 mins., Rated R)