47 FILMS: 10. OVERBOARD
More 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams. This episode we dive into the ultimate 80s rom-com, Overboard.
Undoubtedly the best movie about Stockholm Syndrome ever made. Kurt Russell kidnaps amnesiac socialite Goldie Hawn and convinces her that she’s his wife and the mother of his four children. He treats her like a slave, subjects her to water torture and psychological abuse until she accepts that she is destined for a life of domestic drudgery.
Written down on paper that sounds like the premise of a David Lynch film rather than a romantic comedy and you would think that Overboard would be firmly in the top ten of movies militant feminists and anaemic liberals loathe but I know hard, pipe-hitting lesbians that love Overboard and I’ve sat down with card carrying advocates of women’s rights that were extremely dubious at the start of the flick and won over by the end.
You see Overboard isn’t about the battle of the sexes, it’s about class. Goldie Hawn’s character might have been abducted and brainwashed but she deserved it, she’s rich, obnoxious and entitled. She lives in an elite bubble surrounded by people of her own kind. She’s unhappy, but she doesn’t know anything else, she’s never lived in the ‘real’ world and the dubious scheme concocted by Russell’s sweaty carpenter gives her the opportunity to escape from her gilded cage.
It would be easy to say that Overboard advocates traditional gender roles but Hawn has all the power. When she decides to return to Russell at the end she makes a point of telling him, and the audience, that all of the money is hers. Would she have given it all up for love? That question is never posed and not posing it is a screen-writing master stroke.
Hawn, especially, is excellent. It’s her best role as far as I’m concerned and Russell is the perfect foil. If I was drawing up a list of the best romantic comedies of the 80s, Overboard would be a close second to When Harry Met Sally and there is no higher praise than that.