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Film / Wish You Were Here (1987)

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"Wish You Were Here is a comedy with an angry undertone, a story of a free-spirited girl who holds a grudge against a time when such girls were a threat to society, to the interlocking forces of sexism and convention that conspired to break their spirits."

Wish You Were Here is a 1987 dramedy film directed by David Leland. In 1951 England, Lynda Mansell is fifteen years old and is bored with living in a small British resort town with her single, alcoholic father who's incapable or unwilling to show Lynda any affection and her goody-goody little sister Margaret. Nobody in town understands Lynda's outspoken, brash style and attitude which are ahead of the time. Lynda searches for love in various places, resulting in serious consequences.

Not to be confused with the Pink Floyd album.

This film provides examples of:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Margaret qualifies as this according to Lynda, given her boring, goody-two-shoes persona.
  • Bookends: The film begins with Lynda bicycling on a boardwalk, past a woman busker who tap dances. Later, Lynda bikes at the same place with her skirt hiked up, getting stares and hoots from male onlookers. The film ends with Lynda going to the same areas where she used to bike, this time with her baby in tow and the same people who used to ogle her staring in amazement. The same boardwalk tap dancer shown at the beginning is the last shot.
  • British Stuffiness: In one of the penultimate scenes, Lynda goes on a fiery public rant about what she sees as society’s hypocrisy and uptightness about sex. She gets up on a table at her café job and goads the patrons to yell the word “Sex” with her, making for a truly farcical scene.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Lynda does this to Hubert privately and publicly.
  • Catchphrase: "Up your bum!"
  • Caught Coming Home Late: Hubert catches Lynda sneaking back into her bedroom after being out.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lynda. When Eric shows up at the tea house asking for a cake or a bun, she lists all of the cakes and buns on the menu, squeezing in her favorite catchphrase “Up your bum!”
  • Dirty Old Man: Eric. He preys on Lynda, eventually getting her pregnant (despite her being only 15). In the beginning, he also asks her where her 12-year-old sister is.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The movie's title is a reference to living in a seaside resort and to Lynda missing her late mother.
  • Double Standard: Lynda calls out her old man by pointing out how it’s unfair to shame her for meeting men when he brings women over to the house himself.
    Hubert: I'm not here to be made a bloody fool of, Lynda. There's such a thing as dignity. You seem to think you're smart, but I'm afraid you'll end up the bloody fool. Just don't do it in my house. I don't wanna be witness to that kinda spectacle.
    Lynda: What about Maisie Mathews?
    Hubert: I'm a man.
  • Everytown, America: The film is set in an unnamed coastal resort town in England.
  • The '50s: The film is set in 1951.
  • Flashback: There are a couple of them: one when Lynda's father returns home after World War II and she is punished for using profanity, the other during her mother's funeral.
  • Food Slap: Lynda covers Dave's head with fish and chips after she sees him out with another girl.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played Straight after Lynda discovers she's pregnant.
  • Go to Your Room!: This happens to Lynda at age 11 for being vulgar during her father's welcome home party.
  • Home-Early Surprise: Dave's uncle arrives home and finds Dave in his grandmother's bed wearing her bathrobe.
  • Idealized Sex: Averted and Played for Laughs. Lynda goes into sex for the first time knowing nothing about how it works. As she and Dave start to have sex, Lynda starts laughing at the feeling, and confusedly blurts out, “So what do we now?” Dave prematurely ejaculates, but Lynda doesn’t realize what that is.
  • Innocent Swearing:
    • Lynda tells a psychiatrist that she began swearing when she was very little. This brilliant scene has to be seen to be believed.
      Psychiatrist: You must know a filthy, dirty, smutty word beginning with F.
      Lynda: Why are you asking me?
      Psychiatrist: Because I want to hear you say it.
      Lynda: You dirty old bugger!
    • In the first flashback scene 11-year-old Lynda whispers "Pig's willy" note  and "Up your bum" in seven-year-old Margaret's ear, only for Margaret to repeat what Lynda said out loud in front of the family.
  • Missing Mom/I Miss Mom: Lynda's mother Elizabeth died when she was 11 years old and Margaret was 7.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Averted. Lynda asks Brian, one of the boys on the boardwalk who gawks at her, if he wants to go to the movies with her. He does, and their movie date ends with a kiss.
  • Only One Finds It Fun: When Lynda finishes her table rant in the tea room, she is applauded by a few in the crowd—the elderly woman playing the piano and the other female waitresses.
  • Parental Neglect: Lynda's father doesn't seem to care too much that his friend Eric has taken up with his underaged daughter. All the anger he displays is towards Lynda.
  • Plucky Girl: Despite the obstacles that befall her, Lynda does not lose her bubbly, defiant attitude.
  • Really Gets Around: Lynda has liaisons with various men, one of which results in Lynda ending up pregnant.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Lynda’s outspoken, brash nature puts her at odds with the polite English society of the time.
  • Show Some Leg: Lynda flashes her legs to guys on the boardwalk for fun. One of the boys ends up falling off his bike at the sight.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Lynda.
  • Small Town Boredom: Lynda lives in a small seaside English town where there isn’t much to do.
  • Speed Sex: Dave, the boy Lynda loses her virginity to, prematurely ejaculates during sex.
  • Teenage Pregnancy: Lynda becomes pregnant by her father's friend Eric.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: At the cinema, Brian and Lynda are surrounded by Make-Out Kids. Brian awkwardly tries to initiate something with Lynda by doing the old “reach around”. Lynda doesn’t appreciate this and walks out of the theater.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film is loosely based on the formative years of British madam Cynthia Payne. The film Personal Services, also written by David Leland, covers Payne’s adulthood.

Alternative Title(s): Wish You Were Here