Wi­nona: the come­back

Sunday Herald - - CULTURE NEWS -

NOWHERE is the sense of nos­tal­gia cap­tured bet­ter than the cen­tral char­ac­ter Joyce By­ers, mother of a miss­ing boy called Will (whose dis­ap­pear­ance gets the show go­ing) played by 1980s movie icon Wi­nona Ry­der. Ry­der starred in nu­mer­ous hits from Heathers and Beetle­juice to Ed­ward Scis­sorhands and Mer­maids, be­fore her ca­reer took a mas­sive nose­dive amid tales of bad re­la­tion­ships, men­tal health is­sues and a highly pub­li­cised sho­plift­ing trial.

It seems en­tirely fit­ting that in Stranger Things Ry­der plays the frag­ile, odd­ball mother of a sweet and nerdy kid who sim­ply van­ishes one day, push­ing her to­wards men­tal col­lapse. In her hey­day Ry­der of­ten played the stub­born quirky out­sider who gave voice to girls who were the an­tithe­sis of pop­u­lar blonde cheer­lead­ers and wanted to do good in the world. Her come­back in Stranger Things is the same girl grown up, a sin­gle par­ent, still awk­ward, still stub­born. She’s a fierce but lov­ing mother de­ter­mined to find her miss­ing boy. Play­ing Joyce as ner­vous and at the end of her tether, few other ac­tresses could have made the part their own.

Her per­for­mance is com­ple­mented by a rel­a­tively un­known gang of real-life cool kids. The cast­ing was a stroke of ge­nius, and the young ac­tors have gen­er­ated this hit on the strength of their per­for­mances, speak­ing to nos­tal­gic forty and fiftysome­things of their own youth, and per­fectly con­vey­ing a child­hood be­fore com­put­ers, mo­biles and so­cial me­dia, when kids had ad­ven­tures in the woods un­shack­led from their par­ents.

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