‘Beaches’ is a weepie. Cecilia Carol Bloom (Bette Midler) and Hilary Whitney (Barbara Hershey) meet at the beach as youngsters; Hilary is staying at a posh hotel, CC is hiding under the boardwalk, sneaking a quick fag. They are polar opposites as characters – Cecilia is brash and feisty, wants to be a star. Hilary is quiet and plans to follow her father into a career in law. Despite their differences, they strike up a friendship and communicate via letter for years. Eventually they meet again, each having fulfilled at least part of their ambitions. Hilary is an attorney, CC is beginning to hit the big time on the stage. The film follows their friendship through the years. It is like a marriage as they live together for a while, fight, break up and reconcile! When a crisis hits their lives, the women face it together with quiet courage.
The soundtrack to the movie is ‘Wind beneath my Wings’, a soulful ballad which CC uses to illustrate the support which Hilary has always given her. ‘You were content to let me shine’. I obviously can’t claim to have risen on my wings to any great heights, but the song does make me think of the people who have inspired me – from schoolteachers to bosses, colleagues to relatives. I like to think of myself as a wind rather than an eagle.
The film is a testament to the strength of female friendship, the kind which stays with you a lifetime. Actually, the person who lent me this film is one of the people in my own life for whom I would cross continents if she needed me. Knowing she would do the same for me is what is at the heart of ‘Beaches’.